CM statement keeps Posco hopes alive

Bhubaneswar: Even as the Centre has outrightly rejected Odisha government’s recommendation of granting Khandadhar mining lease in favour of South Korean steel major Posco to set up its steel plant, chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s statement today rekindled the hopes of materialising the mega project.

Upon arrival from his New Delhi tour, replying to a media query whether the Rs 52,000-crore project has reached its dead-end, Patnaik replied in the negative. “I don’t think so. As you know, our government is trying very hard to see that the Posco project is set up,” Patnaik said.

Last month, the Centre formally communicated to the State that Posco will have to take part in open bidding for the Khandadhar iron ore mines in Sundergarh district that are crucial to its 8-million tonne project near Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district.

To this, Odisha Steel and Mines minister Prafulla Mallick had said open bidding is bad news for the company that was banking on the State government’s recommendation in its favour for the mines.

“It was unfortunate that the Centre had not acceded to the State’s request to treat Posco as a special case and grant it prospecting licence for Khandadhar without subjecting these mines to auction,” he rued.

“But they have rejected our request making it clear that Posco, like others, has to take part in the open bidding as the (amended MMDR) Act has already come into force,” said Mallick.