Reported by Chinmaya Dehury, Edited by Swetaparna Mohanty
Bhubaneswar, Oct 25:
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has asked the state government to prepare the ‘present status report’ of the much delayed Posco project as the $12- billion steel project is likely to be discussed in the 7th India-Republic of Korea joint commission meeting (JCM) scheduled to be held on November 9 at Hyderabad House in New Delhi.
The meeting will be held between the Indian External Affairs minister and Foreign minister of the Republic of Korea while the principal secretary of Industries in the Odisha government Parag Gupta will attend the meeting on behalf of the state government.
The meeting assumes significance because it comes ahead of the visit of South Korean President, Park Geun-hye, who is slated to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebration in New Delhi on January 26, 2014. The South Korean President is likely to discuss the Posco issue with the Prime Minister and the President of India during his visit, said a senior official of the state government.
The Industry department has asked IDCO, IPICOL and Jagatsinghpur district collector to prepare the latest status of the Posco project urgently so that it can be placed at the scheduled meeting.
“Principal secretary, Industries, will attend the meeting. It is ascertained that the matter of Posco project may be discussed in the meeting. It is, therefore, requested that an up-to-date status of Posco project may be furnished to this department early for kind appraisal of principal secretary, Industries,” P K Dash, joint secretary of Industries department, said in a letter to the three agencies.
It is to be noted that South Korean envoy to India Joon-gyu Lee, during his visit to Odisha earlier in the month, had expressed his hope that construction of the project will start by next year. He had also discussed the issues confronting the Posco project with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
The project, hyped as the biggest FDI in India, is facing problems following strong resistance from the local people and the inordinate delay in getting clearances from state and Central governments. Besides, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) is hearing a petition on the issue of environment and forest clearance to the project.
The steel behemoth had signed a pact with the state government on June 22, 2005, for the setting up of a 12 mtpa steel plant near Paradip port. The company had sought 4,004 acres of land for the 12 mtpa steel plant and captive port project. However, the land requirement was subsequently scaled down to 2700 acres.
The state government claims it has successfully acquired 2,700 acres of land at the proposed site to help the first phase of the project take off.