The state government has decided to resume the land acquisition process for Posco steel project, which was stalled indefinitely in June last year following stiff protest by the villagers and left party leaders.
The decision was taken in a meeting convened by Chief Secretary B K Patnaik on 16 August, where officials of Central Revenue Division Commissioner, Posco-India, Jagatsinghpur district administration and Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation of Odisha (Idco) were present.
Out of 4004 acres land required for the Posco’s 12 million tonne steel plant, the government has so far acquired 2,000 acres. The company has made it clear that it can start work on first two phases of the project with combined capacity of 8 million tonne if it is provided 2700 acres land. In this backdrop, the government plans to acquire another 700 acre to facilitate start work on the project.
“The government has decided to start the land acquisition work, but has not given us any deadline. I think we will be able to start the acquisition in next 15 days after the preparation of necessary documents and other formalities,” a senior official in Jagatsinghpur district administration said.
Posco officials, though acknowledged about the meeting, said, they have no information on resumption of land acquisition.
“I am told that the Chief Secretary had a meeting about the (Posco steel plant) project, but I am not aware of the content of the meeting,” said Ho Chan Ryu, deputy managing director of Posco-India.
Meanwhile, the state steel and mines department has decided not to acquire any private land for the project following the direction from the High Court, thereby downsizing original land requirement by 437 acres.
The project work has got trapped in a quagmire of delays since June 2011, due to local protests, violence during construction of approach road to the site, non-renewal of MoU with the company which has expired since June 2010 and suspension of the environmental clearance granted to the project by National Green Tribunal.
The fate of the project, dubbed as the biggest foreign direct investment of the country, was further pushed into uncertainty earlier this year, when the state government did not let the Posco officials enter the plant site by revoking Foreigners’ Act, 1946, and the Foreigners (report to the police) order, 1971, prompting Posco-India officials to issue statements saying the state government was not interested in the project.The state government then alleged that the Posco-India was not carrying out any welfare activities in the area, thereby inviting the anger of the displaced people.
The standoff between the steel major and state government cooled down after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh instructed the Naveen Patnaik government to handover the required land after his promise to the Korean government in March this year about the implementation of the project.