MoU with Posco next month: Min

Bhubaneswar: A day after South Korean ambassador Joon-gyu Lee exuded confidence of starting the construction work for Posco steel project, billed as the country’s single largest FDI early next year, the Odisha government on Tuesday said that the much required MoU with the company would be signed in next month.
“We are at the final stage of the draft and the tripartite MoU will be signed in October end or early next month,” Steel and Mines minister Rajanikant Singh said. The tripartite MoU will involve Odisha government, POSCO and Posco-India, a subsidiary of the South Korean company.  
Notably, in June 2005 the state government had signed an MoU with the steel company for the Rs 52,000 crore 12 MTPA (million tonnes per annum) greenfield steel facility near Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district which lapsed in July 2010.
The minister informed that the South Korean steel behemoth has agreed to establish the downstream sectors of the plant in the project area to maximize benefits to the locals. Besides, it has also dropped the swapping proposal of iron ore, whether in the country or abroad, for steel project in the state.
“So far as employment is concerned, it (Posco) will give priority to the local residents,” the minister said.
Industry experts however believe though the state government has able to acquire 2700 acres of land required for the company’s agreed 8 MTPA plant, hurdles like raw material source and the environmental clearance are yet to overcome.
The state government had recommended prospecting licence for Khandadhar iron ore mines in favour Posco, but a case challenging the move is now pending before the apex court.
Besides, the Union steel ministry is reportedly pursuing the case of revalidation of environment clearance for the project with the ministry of environment & forests (MoEF) in a bid to help expedite construction work for the project.