Naveen defends POSCO, slams Cong

Bhubaneswar: In the backdrop of renewed agitation against POSCO over lapsed MOU and land acquisition, Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday said the pact was not mandatory for setting up any industry and questioned Congress' stand on the Rs 52,000 crore project.

"MoU is not compulsory for taking up construction in connection with establishment of an industry," Patnaik said in the state assembly.

Stating that MoU was merely a facilitating instrument, he said there had been no illegality by taking up activities for setting up Posco's 12mtpa mega steel plant.

Establishment of industries and construction activities have been taken in the state by many industrial units without signing MoU, he claimed. "Hence, construction at Posco site need not wait for a fresh MoU," Patnaik said.

On the opposition to POSCO prorject by Congress, Patnaik said "the stand taken by Congress leaders in Orissa over Posco project puzzles me. POSCO project was initiated by the central government headed by Congress."

Terming the project as the country's largest Foreign Direct Investment, he said it was being reviewed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on a regular basis.

Leader of the Opposition Bhupinder Singh, however, claimed outside the assembly that Congress was not against POSCO project. "We oppose the manner in which the state government is handling issues relating to the project."