S Korea wants fast-tracking of USD 12bn Posco steel proj

New Delhi: South Korea on Thursday urged India not to "disregard" the importance of the proposed USD 12 billion Posco steel project, in view of the development it is set to bring in the country besides creating thousands of jobs.

"We don`t have to disregard the importance of this greenfield investment, which can create a great deal of jobs in India and a great deal of values for Indian industry," South Korean Trade Minister Kim Jong-Hoon told reporters here.

The 12 million tonne per annum (MTPA) project, proposed in Orissa and billed as the largest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in India, does not encroach forest land and should be given go ahead at the earliest, Jong-Hoon said.

"… the site where we try to set up the steel mill is not in my mind forest area…," he said.

Citing statistics, Jong-Hoon said that a good part of foreign inflows into India goes to the stock markets, but "what produces more value, what produces more jobs – is greenfield investments and Posco is a good example".

The South Korean Minister said that both the countries should work together to find a good solution in case of any environmental concerns.

Jong-Hoon`s Indian counterpart Anand Sharma expressed hope that the issues delaying the project would be removed soon.

"There are certain issues. I am sure that whatever the glitches are, will be removed. The necessary clearances will come and the remainder issues will get settled," Sharma said.

South Korean Posco had entered into an agreement with Orissa in 2005 for setting 12 MTPA plant, but is facing problems in getting clearance from the Environment Ministry.

The project in Jagatsinghpur district seeks diversion of 1,253.225 hectares of forest land and came under Environment Ministry`s scanner in August last year for alleged green law violations. A decision is likely later this month.

About Rs 1.5 lakh crore big-ticket steel projects of giants like ArcelorMittal and Posco could not take off for over five years now for want of necessary regulatory and other clearances.

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