Govt to review delays in POSCO project

Agra: The government will review the delays in South Korean steel giant POSCO's proposed Rs 52,000 crore project in Odisha, which has failed to take off due to problems in land acquisition and regulatory issues.

The issue on  Monday figured in a bilateral meeting held here between Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and visiting South Korean Minister of Knowledge Economy Sukwoo Hong, in which the Korean side raised the issue of delays in Posco project clearance, an official statement said.

"We have been concerned about the delays and will be conducting a review. Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) himself has been monitoring this project," the statement quoted Sharma as saying to the South Korean Minister during the meeting.

It added that the South Korean side emphasised the importance of the project for enhancing economic ties between the two countries.

However, no time line for the review was given in the statement.

In June, 2005, POSCO had announced to set up a 12 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) steel plant in Jagatsingpur district.

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 the state government expressed 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 project.

The South Korean steel major also requires green clearances for the project.

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 and development of related infrastructure.

The company requires 20 MTPA iron ore for annual steel production of 12 million tonnes over 30 years.