Posco India gets shot in the arm

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Bhubaneswar: Posco India, the Indian subsidiary of South Korean steel behemoth POSCO, received a shot in the arm with the Odisha government recommending the Centre prospecting licence (PL) of Khandadhar mines in Sundergarh district in favour of the company.

According to highly placed sources, the state government in a day or two would send the compliance report to the Union mines ministry on the iron ore mining lease.

Officials say, the report will contain the findings of the DGPS (differential global positioning system) survey of around 2,500 hectares of the lease area for which the Odisha government had recommended PL in favour of the steel company for its proposed steel plant near Paradeep in Jagatsinghpur district.

The Odisha government’s Friday move followed the Environment Ministry’s go-ahead to Posco India’s Rs 52,000 crore greenfield steel mill with 8 million tonne per annum (MTPA) capacity in first phase.

The project, after an eight-year wait, got off the ground with the revalidation of environment clearance (EC) by the ministry which too asked Posco to spend on “social commitments”. Reports say, the company will have to spend 5 per cent of its total investment on “enterprise social commitments”.  According to analysts, this is expected to push up the project cost by about Rs 2,600 crore.

POSCO first signed an agreement with Odisha in June 2005 to set up the 12 MTPA steel plant on 4,004 acres of land.

It has already been allotted about 1,700 acres to begin the project’s first stage, which involves setting up two 4-million-tonne plants in two phases. The state government is yet to hand over the already acquired additional 1,000 acres of land for the project.

Now, that the Environment Ministry has revalidated the EC, the state government is expected to expedite the process to transfer the said land to the steel giant.

Besides, it is also waiting the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to vacate the stay order put by it.

In May 2013, the NGT had ordered a status quo on tree felling on the site of Posco’s steel plant until a decision is taken on its lapsed environmental clearance.

“It is contended before us now that large number of trees are being felled by the Project Proponent without permission of any competent authority. In the facts and circumstance aforesaid, we direct that the status quo in regard of cutting of trees as of today shall be maintained”, NGT had said in its order.

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