Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Aug 22:
With the Centre scheduling a high level meeting on the vexed Posco issue on August 25, there is now a glimmer of hope for the beleauguered steel project proposed to be set up by the Korean steel major near Odisha’s port town of Paradip.
The state government had requested the Centre for a meeting after Posco put the project on hold amid indications that it may pull out of the state unless the government offered better terms.
The Odisha chief secretary, the secretary, Steel & Mines department, the Union cabinet secretary, secretary, Steel & Mines and Posco representatives will attend the meeting convened by the Centre on August 25, informed Prafulla Mallick, Minister Steel and Mines speaking to reporters here today.
“At a high level meeting held on August 20 with the Chief Minister in the chair, it had been decided that the chief secretary will fix a date in consultation with the Central government to discuss the Posco issue with representatives of both the governments and Posco present in it. Accordingly, August 25 has been fixed for the meeting at New Delhi. Our side will be represented by the chief secretary and the Steel & Mines secretary while the Union cabinet secretary and Union Steel & Mines secretary will represent the Central government. Posco’s representative will also be attending the tripartite meeting, which will discuss what Posco wants, what kind of facilities it needs and so on. Posco has to first spell out what kind of cooperation it expects from the state government. The state government will do whatever is possible within the scope of the law,” Mallick told reporters.
On the raw material and land requirement for the Posco project, Mallick said: “We have been telling for long that we are prepared to provide raw material (ore) linkage to Posco through OMC. So far as land is concerned, it’s almost settled; IDCO will be providing the land. Posco should first make its stand clear.”
On being asked whether Posco has its stand to the state government on the issue, the Minister said: “Posco hasn’t informed us anything about its stand. It will make its stand clear at the meeting to be held on August 25.”
Posco can tell the Central government if it wants anything from them. It’s up to the Central government to take a call on their demand within the purview of the law, the Minister said.
He said under the new MMDR Act, Posco has to participate in auction in order to avail mines. “We will do whatever is agreed upon at the meeting,” Mallick said.
Union Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar also reiterated today his government’s stand that Posco has to participate in auction in order to get mines as per provisions of the amended MMDR Act.
Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MPs had met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi and discussed the Posco issue on August 12.
A member of the delegation BJD MP Kalikesh Singhdeo had said after the meeting that Jaitley had assured to look into the matter positively after being apprised of the Posco issue.
It is to be noted that steel giant Posco has recently signed an agreement with Uttam Steel and Power to do a feasibility study to set up a 3 million tonne per annum (MTPA) integrated steel plant in Maharashtra.
Posco’s steel plant project near Paradip is billed as the biggest foreign direct investment (FDI) project in the country which has been stuck in a decade-long regulatory quagmire starting from land acquisition to getting raw material linkage to the proposed plant.
The South Korean company had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the state government on June 22, 2005.