Land acquisition issue prompts Posco to seek more time for SEZ

Paradip/New Delhi: The state government’s land acquisition drive for South Korean steel major Posco’s proposed Rs 52,000cr greenfield project in Jagatsinghpur district, which was scheduled to commence from Monday failed to take off amid protests from locals.

"The work was to recommence today. But due to unavoidable reasons it could not be taken up. It'll start soon," Paradip additional district magistrate Surajit Das said.

According to sources, the district administration was scheduled to visit the area to disburse compensation to 27 people who sacrificed their betel vines during land acquisition in 2010.  

Notably, over 600 anti-land acquisition supporters led by Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) held a demonstration near Gobindpur on Sunday opposing the setting up of the proposed plant at the site. "If the district administration attempts to resume land acquisition work, we will oppose it and not allow it at any cost", PPSS leader Abhay Sahoo said.

The land acquisition work had been suspended in the area since a violence in the area on June 10, 2011.
The state government has already acquired about 2,000 acres for the project and required only 700 acres more for commencement of the project work.

The district collector last week had convened a series of meetings with residents of Gobindpur, Gadakujang and Nuagaon villages, which are at the proposed plant site. The villagers had insisted on fulfilment of their demands which include adequate compensation, convening of meeting by the revenue divisional commissioner and initiating of efforts to restore normalcy in the three panchayats.

Meanwhile Posco has sought more time from the Commerce Ministry for its special economic zone (SEZ), as it is yet to get adequate land from the state government.

An inter-ministerial Board of Approval (BoA), chaired by the Commerce Secretary S R Rao will consider the request from Posco's subsidiary Posco India Pvt Ltd on January 18, the commerce ministry said.

"Posco India Pvt Ltd a Multi Product SEZ, over an area of 1620.49 hectares in Jagatsinghpur District, Odisha, who was granted (letter of approval) LoA on 26 October, 2006, has applied for extension of their SEZ project for the 7th year," it said.

The company's application was deferred by the BoA in its November 23, 2012 meeting due to the absence of state government's views on the issue.

"The state government has now recommended the proposal with a condition that the establishment of SEZ will be subject to necessary clearance under different laws as applicable. The proposal is accordingly placed before BoA for its consideration," it added.

(With Agency Inputs)