Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 16:
The Opposition Congress and BJP today came down heavily on the Odisha government over the decision of the South Korean steel major Posco to suspend its proposed mega steel project in the state.
Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) Prasad Harichandan said the sheer inefficiency and inability of the state government, which was blowing its own trumpet claiming that it was due to its effort that the state has the largest ever foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country to the tune of Rs 52,000 crore, has been thoroughly exposed.
“As Posco has made up its mind to suspend its mega project, the possibility of more revenue generation and periphery development in the proposed plant site has now become remote. Besides, the people of the locality as well as the economy of the state would be severely affected,” Harichandan said.
In his reaction, senior Congress leader and former OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik said if anyone is to be blamed for the Posco project withdrawal, it has to be the state government.
“We had been telling the state government from the outset that the site it has chosen for the proposed mega steel plant is wrong. Had the site been shifted to the other side of the river, Posco would have started its production by now. Prior to this, we had earlier refused the IFFCO Fertilisers and the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) not to set up their plant at this site. But the state government, without examining and realising the ground realities, took the decision on its own while sitting inside the air-conditioned room and the end result has come as the South Korean steel major has begun the process of withdrawal of its project from the state,” Patnaik pointed out.
Expressing grave concern over the issue, senior BJP leader Suresh Pujari said the proposed steel project failed to take off as state government failed to acquire land for the proposed plant.
“Whatever land the government had acquired from the people of the locality, it failed to provide adequate compensation to them under Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R&R) policy. The chief minister did not pay a visit to the area to know the plight of the displaced people. There was a prolonged agitation by the local people against the state government and the company,” he said.
He also said prior to the amendment in the MMDR Act, the state government did not make any effort to resolve the issue with the Centre on allotment of iron ore mines to Posco. Under the newly amended MMDR Act, it has become difficult for the state government to lease out mines to the companies at a rock-bottom price as it used to do earlier. Besides, Posco is unwilling to accept the newly amended Act, which has a mandatory provision on open auction of mines.
“On the whole, it is the state government and the chief minister who are squarely responsible for the outcome, which has gone against the people of the state. This state government is not at all serious in its commitment and determination for the setting up of mega industries in the state,” he alleged.
Convenor of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) Abhaya Sahu said the Posco project was basically anti-people.
“The South Korean company had come to the state with an ulterior motive to loot its precious mineral reserve,” he claimed.
Asked about the issue, Industries minister Debi Prasad Mishra said his department would come to know about the matter in detail only after it receives a formal letter from Posco.
“As per the reports in the media, Posco was willing for a captive mines to run its plant, which became difficult for the company with the new amendment in the MMDR Act by the Centre. However, the accurate communication the company has made can be known only after the department receives a letter from it,” Mishra told reporters here.
Responding to the reaction of the opposition parties, he said let them see their faces in the mirror first.
“For the opposition parties, it is like staying in glass houses and throwing stones at others. Let them think about what they have done for the inordinate delay of the project,” the minister pointed out.