India's JSW Steel to set up $20 million plant in Kashmir

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FILE PHOTO: Indian security forces personnel stand guard in front of closed shops during restrictions imposed by authorities following the death of Syed Ali Shah Geelani in Srinagar

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's JSW Steel said on Monday it was investing some $20 million to set up a steel plant in Jammu and Kashmir – the second major spending announcement in as many weeks, as the Indian government pushes for development in the disputed region.

The Muslim-majority region is contested between India and Pakistan, which both claim it in full but rule in part.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist government has urged development in the India-ruled part of Kashmir, where an armed insurgency against New Delhi has raged for decades.

The "state-of the art colour-coated steel" plant would have a capacity of 120,000 metric tonnes per annum and lines to make steel sandwich panel and steel doors to cater to the Kashmir market, JSW Steel said in a statement.

It follows India’s announcement last week that Dubai had struck an accord to build a hospital, IT parks, and other infrastructure in Kashmir.

Investments are fraught with risks in the region, where in recent weeks a spate of militant attacks on civilians and a widespread crackdown by security forces have left several people dead.

A precursor to the investments was India’s amendment last year to Kashmir's land laws, which followed revoking the region's autonomy in 2019 to bring it under the direct rule of New Delhi, triggering massive protests and opposition from locals.

JSW Steel said its 1.50 billion rupees ($20.01 million) steel plant would be set up in southern Kashmir's Pulwama, and that Indian Home Minister had given land allocation papers to JSW Steel Chairman Sajjan Jindal on Monday.

(Writing by Zeba Siddiqui; Editing by Barbara Lewis)

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