‘Let Posco pay up first, rest comes later’

Bhubaneswar: The State government today clarified that it would give details of utilisation of the amount to South Korean steel major Posco only after getting dues of Rs 54 crore towards land premium from the company.

Speaking to mediapersons here, Industries minister Debi Prasad Mishra said, “The letter from Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Idco) to Posco should yield some result. First, the dues should be cleared by the company.”

Replying to a query whether the company was given six months to pay the dues, the minister added, “They have not communicated anything to us as yet.”

A war of words has started between Posco India and Idco after the steel maker sought details of utilisation of Rs 30.34 crore it had deposited towards land acquisition for its mega steel plant project in Jagatsinghpur.

Idco had also put pressure on the company authorities to pay up land dues worth Rs 54 crore, warning it that failing which the leased land would be taken back.

Though the government has acquired over 2,700 acre of land for Posco’s 8-million tonne per annum (mtpa) steel plant project in its first phase, only 1,700 acre has been transferred to it. Idco has not handed over the balance 1,000 acre, citing that Posco had not cleared the land dues and net present value arrears of Rs 19 crore.

Meanwhile, Union mines secretary Anup K. Pujari, who was here to attend a private function, told mediapersons that after the introduction of MMDR Amendment Act no one will be allocated mines on the basis of nomination or application.

“Mining lease can only be given by auction,” Pujari added emphatically.

Posco India had entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the State government in June 2005 for setting up a 12-mtpa steel mill at a cost of US$ 12 billion. The project required 4,004 acre of land in all.

However, the company later redesigned the project and planned to set up an 8-mtpa plant in the first phase which needs 2,700 acre. Expansion to the original plan would be done at a later stage.