Worried over long delay in implementation of its much hyped 12 million tonne steel plant in the state, Posco-India has renewed its efforts to expedite work on the project. To clear the ground for start of at least the first phase work, the company officials seek to impress the top state administration about the urgency of acquiring the required land through a series of parleys.
The latest of such engagement is the scheduled meeting between Posco-India chairman and managing director Yong Won Yoon and chief minister Naveen Patnaik on May 16 which will be the second high profile meeting on the project with Patnaik in last two weeks.
The Korean ambassador to India Kim Joong-Keun had met chief minister in Bhubaneswar on May 2 and requested the later to provide at least 2,700 acres of land out of identified 4,004 acres at the designated area near Paradip for start of work on the phase I and II, comprising 4 million tonne each, at the earliest. The company has agreed to put off the Phase III till rest of the land is acquired.
The state government agency Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Idco), which is acquiring land for the project, till date has got clear possession of 2,000 acres in Nuagaon and Gada Kujang Panchayats while being unable to progress with the drive in Gobindpur and Dhinkia villages due to stiff resistance of the people.
However, Posco is repeatedly harping on need of acquiring additional 700 acres for the project to help it start building the plant.
“The CMD (Chief Managing Director) and other Posco-India officials will meet chief minister Naveen Patnaik on May 16 and hold discussion on the project. There will be general discussion this time,” said Ho Chan Ryu, deputy managing director, Posco-India Private Ltd, while refusing to divulge the details of the meeting agenda.
Meanwhile, the state government has asked the company to be patient and understand the ground realities hindering the land acquisition process. In a letter, the state steel and mines department has also advised the company to initiate Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) measures to win over the hearts of local people.
“Every possible effort has been made by government of Odisha to complete the process of handing over the balance required land. The activities of administration such as betel vine demolition, tree cutting, demolition of prawn ponds should be accompanied by the activities of Posco-India, viz, construction of rehabilitation colony, providing alternative employment to the landless betel vine laborers and construction of surge protection wall,” said a letter sent by the state steel and mines department to the forest and environment department last month in response to Posco allegation.
Meanwhile, the state government has postponed the date of discussion for draft finalization of Memorandum of Understating (MoU) renewal with Posco to May 17 instead of May 5. Posco’s Odisha project head will be dealing with the MoU draft renewal process, Ryu said.