Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Dec 20:
Long after POSCO’s July 15 announcement to freeze its Odisha project, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today said that he is still optimistic about the steel giant investing in the state.
“POSCO has proposed to be the largest FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in the country. I am hopeful of it coming up here,” said Patnaik while addressing the ‘Business Standard Odisha Round Table – 2015’ in Bhubaneswar today.
He informed the audience that the State Government has taken the Prime Minister in loop over the incident and is trying to convene a meeting at the Central Government level to sort out the issues.
Good hopes apart, experts see nothing new in the Chief Minister’s statement today as the State Government has been trying in vain since past six months and has not been able make much progress.
Notably, after several rounds of talks at various levels between the company, the state and the Central Government that failed to bring in a conclusion; Patnaik, on October 22, had requested Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to convene a tripartite meeting with POSCO officials to take a final call on the $12 billion investment project. Once again, nothing much has progressed since then.
Interestingly, after announcing to temporarily freeze its 12 million tonne per annum mega steel plant in the state, the company has gone ahead with a $3 billion – 1.5 million tonne per annum (MTPA) plant at Satarda in Maharashtra in a JV with Shree Uttam Steel and Power Ltd. The MoU for the project was signed on August 11.
Besides, the company has also surrendered around 7300 sq ft of its office space in Bhubaneswar citing lack of need and is now operating out of a 5000 sq ft facility compared to a 12300 sq ft allotted to them initially.
It may also be mentioned here that coupled with slowing global demand of steel, MMDR act of Union Government that denies preferential allocation of mines to any corporate without bidding and the exorbitant delay in land acquisition, the project has long been lying in a dormant status in the state. While the company rules out pulling out of the state permanently, it doesn’t start construction on the land allocated to it either.