CM for cautious approach in implementing Posco project

Bhubaneswar: With South Korean steel major Posco being impatient over inordinate delay in implementation of its proposed Rs 52,000 crore project in the state, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday said one has to be cautious while dealing with certain issues.

"We believe in peaceful industrialisation in the state. Therefore, one has to be cautious ….," Patnaik told reporters to a question on the state government`s views on the recent remark of Posco-India CMD Yong-Won Yoon.

Stating that Posco project was the biggest foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country, Patnaik said the district administration of Jagatsinghpur had been doing its duty of maintaining peace in the areas.

The police, he said, had been doing its best to ensure the project is implemented in a peaceful way, he said.

Patnaik said this in the wake of police preventing Posco bosses from holding a seminar at Nuagaon, located in mega steel plant site, on March 1. The local police asked the Posco officials to shift venue of their seminar to Paradip.

Tension prevailed in the project area since one person died in a clash during construction of coastal road linking Posco`s plant site to the port town of Paradip on December 14.

All works including ground levelling and tree felling remained suspended in view of the volatile situation, an official said.

Though state government had asked Posco to hold the seminar in the state capital, the company insisted to conduct it at Nuagaon prompting police to vacate them from there.

Local police had earlier restricted entry of foreigners, mainly South Koreans, to the proposed plant site for security reason, said Chief Secretary B K Patnaik.

However, the company had been seeking lifting of ban to ensure supervision of work at proposed plant site.

Addressing the seminar, Yoon said "we have written to the government several times for lifting of the travel ban as the restriction has virtually turned POSCO officials immobile.We are unable to do the ground work and win the confidence of villagers."

"We are not allowing any Korean to the plant site due to security point of view. The police is not opposed to them. Rather worried over their security," a senior police officer in Jagatsinghpur district said.

The villages have witnessed a number of violent incidents including murder of two local men, abduction, detention of Koreans. Therefore, the administration was not willing to allow Koreans to visit the place.

Though the state government signed MoU with Posco-India in 2005, the project could not take off even after seven years due to opposition from the local people.

Once state government hands over 2700 acres of the required 4,004 acre of land, the company has made up its mind to resume construction work of the proposed plant.

The first phase of 12 MTPA steel plant would get operational by 2016 year, Yoon said.