The plan is to start up the facility immediately after completion of upgrade work on the plant, according to Abjijit Pati, president and chief operating officer of the smelter project.

The delay in commissioning the plant is related to issues of uncertainty surrounding Odisha’s policy towards ‘special economic zones’, making it impossible for various government departments to grant SEZ status to the smelter project.

Vedanta says that commissioning of the facility will boost the local economy and provide direct and indirect employment opportunities for up to 12,000 people in addition to developing local infrastructure. The company wants to encourage downstream businesses to the area adjoining the smelter and wants electricity duty exemption to apply across both processing and non-processing areas within the SEZ.

Special economic zones are designed to offer commercial enterprises a variety of benefits, such as exemption from federal tax laws, to enhance global competitiveness.

In India, it has been argued in the national media that the government has never demonstrated strong commitment to the SEZ programme and that even recent reforms to the scheme will not rekindle investor confidence.

Outside of SEZ, Vedanta has been experiencing well-publicised problems surrounding bauxite supply to its beleagured Lanjigarh alumina refinery in Odisha, which has been relying upon supplies from neighbouring states.