MoU with Posco will be ready in a month’s time: Chief Secretary

Bhubaneswar: With Posco project opponents, including the Left parties, preparing to observe Black Day tomorrow, Odisha government on Friday said the draft of the fresh MoU to be signed with the South Korean steel major will be ready in a month's time. 
"The law department has made some recommendations on the MoU with Posco-India. We are examining the conditions in MoU. It will be sent to the Chief Minister's Office in a month for approval," Chief Secretary B K Patnaik told reporters here. 
Odisha government's MoU with Posco-India lapsed three years ago. The state government and the South Korean steel major had signed MoU for setting up a 12mtpa steel mill near Paradip in Jagatsinghpur at an investment of Rs 52,000 crore on June 22, 2005. The MoU was valid for five years. 
Asked whether a fresh MoU will be signed with Posco-India or the lapsed one revised, Patnaik said, "We are examining different aspects of the recommendations made by the Law Department and will take decision accordingly." 
Sources said the Law department has recommended a number of changes in the previous MoU. There will be a condition to employ local people in the proposed mega steel plant. Posco- India has agreed to the condition, they said. 
This apart, Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has recommended to the state government to delete the swapping of iron ore clause in the revised MoU. "We have taken MoEF's suggestions into consideration," said a senior officer. 
Meanwhile, Left parties like CPI, CPI-M, Forward Bloc and Samajwadi Party and RJD are preparing to observe Black Day tomorrow marking signing of the MoU for the proposed steel project. 
"This will be the eighth year when we will observe Black Day. CPI has been opposing the project since 2005," said CPI state secretary Dibakar Nayak. 
Though there is no MoU in force for the project, Odisha government has already acquired about 2500 acre land for construction of a 8mtpa steel mill by Posco in phase-1. 
The Expert Appraisal Committee has, meanwhile, recommended renewal of environment clearance for Posco's Odisha project, raising hopes for early start of construction by the South Korean company.