Agra: Government will review afresh delays in South Korean steel giant Posco's Rs 52,000-crore plant in Odisha, stalled since 2005, as it is committed to ensuring "smooth offtake" of the project, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said Monday.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is personally monitoring the Posoc project, Sharma told South Korean Minister of Knowledge Economy Sukwoo Hong in a meeting in which the visiting side raised the issue of delays in clearances for the project and pointed out that this is the biggest FDI proposal in India.
The project, which envisages constructing a 12 million tonnes per annum steel project, is hanging fire since 2005 due to stiff opposition from the local people against acquisition of land and also due to other regulatory clearances.
"We have been concerned about delays and will be conducting a review. Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) himself has been monitoring this project," an official statement quoted Sharma as saying to the South Korean Minister during the meeting.
Later speaking to reporters, the Commerce Minister said that "we are committed to ensuring the smooth off-take of the Posco project, which is one of the highest FDI coming to India.
"We will see how we can, in consultation with the state government and concerned agencies, find out the acceptable solution so that the implementation of the project is expedited."
Sharma, however, evaded a direct reply when asked if the issue is part of the agenda for the first meeting of newly constituted Cabinet Committee on Investments (CCI), scheduled on January 30.
"That meeting has been convened and if there are any issues, which require the attention of the CCI, shall be taken and put on the agenda there," Sharma said.
In June, 2005, POSCO had announced setting up a 12 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) steel plant in Odisha's Jagatsingpur.
However, land for the project has not yet been fully acquired due to opposition from the local people.
According to Posco India's website, the project has now been divided into three phases of 4 MTPA each.
"Phase I is expected to conclude in 2016-17. Phase II will be completed three years after completion of Phase I and Phase III will be commissioned within three years after Phase II," the website said.
Of this, first phase is estimated to cost USD 3.7 billion (Rs 16,650 crore), it added.
For 12 MTPA steel plant, Posco required 4,004 acres of the land. However, after Odisha government expressing its inability last year to transfer the entire land in one-go, the company decided to scale down the plant size to 8 MTPA initially and now needs about 2,700 acres of land.
The Odisha government is believed to have acquired 2,100 acres of land so far for the Posco project.
The South Korean steel major also requires green clearances.
On March 30, 2012, the National Green Tribunal had suspended the green clearance granted on January 31, 2011, to the much-awaited project on not seeking clearance for the entire project.
The Posco project also includes iron ore mine development over 30 years (total 600 million tonnes) at captive mines located in the Keonjhar and Sundergarh districts of Odisha and development of related infrastructure.
The company requires 20 MTPA iron ore for annual steel production of 12 million tonnes over 30 years.