Odisha Sun Times Bureau
New Delhi/ Bhubaneswar, Apr 6:
Worried over the fate of the Rs 52,000 crore Posco steel project in Odisha, touted as the biggest foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country, the Centre has asked the Odisha government to resolve the issue of granting iron ore lease to Posco for its Rs 52,000-crore steel project as soon as possible.
The move follows a recommendation by a panel formed to address issues on delayed mega projects in the steel sector to expedite the South Korean project which has been languishing for nearly 9 years.
The inter-ministerial group (IMG), which reviewed the progress of mega projects last month, has also asked the Mines Ministry about steps taken to resolve the matter in the wake of the Supreme Court judgement on grant of PL for Khandadhar iron ore mine in May last year.
In May last year, the Supreme Court had set aside the Odisha High Court order of July 2010 quashing the state government decision to allot iron ore licence to Posco in Khandadhar hills in Sundargarh district and asked the Centre to take a final decision after examining all objections raised over the mega project .
Posco’s 12-million tonne steel plant project near Paradip port in Odisha, described as a jinxed project by some, has been mired in controversies and hit by a number of issues including regulatory hurdles and delay in land acquisition.
Sources said, the Union Steel secretary G Mohan Kumar, who heads the inter-ministerial group (IMG), has told the Odisha government.to initiate efforts to resolve the problems over the issue of grant of mining licence to Posco on the basis of the apex court’s judgement and in consultation with the Ministry of Mines.
Sources also said the Odisha government had informed the IMG that bifurcation of the area in notified and non-notified parts was a problem for the grant of PL (prospecting license) to Posco for the Khandadhar iron ore mine.
The Centre has now asked for specific comments from the Odisha government on its stand vis-a-vis the grant of PL for both ‘notified’ and ‘non-notified’ areas.
The state government’s recommendation in favour of Posco for grant of prospective licence for Khandadhar iron ore reserves in January, 2009 was challenged by Geomin, an applicant for the same mine in the Odisha High Court. Later, 16 other firms which had also applied for mining leases also intervened in the case.