New Delhi: The Centre has asked the Odisha government to resolve without delay the issue of giving iron ore lease to Posco`s Rs 52,000-crore steel project, the largest ever FDI in India.
The development comes in the wake of a high-level panel`s meeting last month. The committee was formed to address issues impeding mega projects in the steel sector.
The South Korean steel steel player`s plans to set up a 12-million tonne steel plant at Jagatsinghpur in Odisha entailing an investment of Rs 52,000 crore is stuck for the last eight years due to regulatory hurdles and delays in land acquisition.
In May last year, the Supreme Court had set aside the Odisha High Court order that quashed the state government decision to allot iron ore licence to Posco in Khandadhar hills in Sundergarh district. The apex court asked the Centre to consider all the objections raised by various parties pertaining to the mega steel plant and take a decision.
The High Court on July 14, 2010, on the petition of Geomin Minerals, had set aside the state government`s decision to allow Posco mining in the hills.
"The Supreme Court judgment on the matter should be initial point for finding the way forward to resolve the issue. The State Government in consultation with Ministry of Mines should discuss and settle the matter without further delay," Steel Secretary G Mohan Kumar, who chairs the Inter Ministerial Group (IMG), has conveyed to the Odisha government.
As per the minutes of the IMG meeting, G?Srinivas, Secretary, Steel and Mines, Odisha government, has stated that bifurcation of the area in notified and non-notified parts was posing problem for grant of PL (prospecting license) for Khandadhar iron ore mine to POSCO.
Kumar, however sought "specific comments" of the State Government for examining grant of PL for notified as well as non-notified areas.
The IMG, which reviewed the progress of mega projects in March, asked the Mines Ministry as to what steps were initiated after apex Ccourt judgement on grant of PL for Khandadhar iron ore mine in May last year.
Geomin Minerals had contended before the High Court that it had applied for the prospective licence for Khandadhar iron ore mines much before Posco.
The Odhisa government, which had moved the apex court, on October 29, 2010 on this issue, had contended that the High Court could not have quashed the state government`s grant of licence to Posco as it was under section 11 (5) of Mines And Minerals (Development And Regulation) Act, 1957.
The state government in January, 2009 had recommended Posco to the central government for granting prospective licence for Khandadhar iron ore reserves.
This was challenged by Geomin and later 16 other firms which had also applied for mining leases also intervened.