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Rediff.com  » Business » After one year, Posco signs land deal

After one year, Posco signs land deal

June 22, 2006 14:11 IST
A year after signing the MoU with South Korean steel maker Posco, the Orissa government has assured the company of about 1,135 acres of litigation free government land for its proposed 12 million tonne steel project near Paradip.

The Jagatsinghpur district magistrate has sanctioned 1135 acres of government land in favour of the state-owned Infrastructure Development Corporation of Orissa Ltd.

A demand note detailing volume of payment is being sent to Posco-India today, IDCO managing director Ashok Meena told PTI. Posco would require around 4,000 acres of land for its project of which 3,500 acres of land belonged to the state government.

However, the 1,135 acres of land are litigation free, he said. Once Posco-India made the payment to IDCO, a lease agreement would be signed between the two organisations, Meena said adding that the process would be completed within next 10 days.

He said the state government had received over 6,000 objection letters from local people on the government-owned land available near the project site.

On Wednesday, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had reviewed the progress of the project and asked concerned departments to expedite procedures for the Posco project. The Posco project is the biggest foreign direct investment in the country and "we shall do our best to facilitate the completion of project in time", Patnaik assured.

The Posco delegation was led by its chairman and MD Soung-Sik Cho at the meeting.  The Union Government has rendered necessary support to the project. Various infrastructure development projects such as railway had been committed by them, Patnaik said.

Meanwhile, the state government appointed a special nodal officer to expedite the necessary procedures and clearances for the controversy-ridden 12 million tonne steel project.

The state government has decided to appoint two rehabilitation and resettlement officers, one zone and one nodal officer to oversee the project, L N Gupta, secretary, State Steel and Mines said after the review meeting.

Moreover, the state government also constituted one rehabilitation and Periphery Development Advisory Committee under chairmanship of a senior IAS officer to quickly resolve contentious issues pertaining to displacement, he said.

Posco-India Private Limited incorporated in August 2005, proposed to invest around Rs 52,000 crore (Rs 520 billion) for the Greenfield steel project and other infrastructural projects.

Despite alluring announcements on employment generation and benefits to be accrued by the state government as well as Centre, the project had been facing tough resistance on the issue of land.

Though the land acquisition notice had been published since a month now, government officials have not been able to serve it to the people who are facing displacement.

Villagers have blocked major routes to the project site and locked revenue inspector's office, which was to execute land related orders from state government. Officials from Works, Commerce, Steel and Mines, Industry and Energy departments took part in the meeting.

Looking at the public resistance, Posco has also made some adjustments to meet the misgivings of the people. "We have modified the plant layout 60 times with an aim to minimise displacement of locals. Last year we reduced the site size from 5,000 acres to 4,000 acres, Posco-India CMD said adding around 400 families would now be required to be displaced.

Aiming to interact with local people on land acquisition and rehabilitation, Posco -India plans to open an office at Kujanga nearer to the project site from July.

Meanwhile, former Panchayati Raj Minister and influential BJD legislator from the area Damodar Rout has come out in support of the project.

"If private land owners don't agree to leave from the site, Posco project would be set up excluding their land, Rout, whose support to the project is being considered as crucial, said.

Rout, who was dropped from the Naveen Patnaik ministry recently, said around 440 acres of land belonged to private land owners and rest were owned by the government. The government is mulling over the possibility of facilitating setting up of the steel mill on the rest 3,500 acres of land only, Rout said.
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