No decision on swapping clause for renewed MoU with Posco

Bhubaneswar: Put in a fix over controversial iron ore swapping clause in the lapsed MoU with Posco-India, state government on Tuesday asked different departments to give their views within 15 days on possible deletion and addition of new points in the renewed MoU with the South Korean firm.

"No decision has been taken at today`s meeting. The secretaries of concerned departments are asked to give their considered opinion on different subjects, including swapping clause. Chief minister will take a final decision," said chief secretary B K Patnaik who presided over a preparatory meeting ahead of the renewal of MoU with Posco-India.

The state government which had earlier announced to renew the MoU with Posco-India by end of this month, held a detailed discussion on the swapping clause, water sources for Posco`s proposed 12mtpa steel mill near Paradip, mandatory reservation of jobs for local youths and other subjects.

Though the MoU with the South Korean steel major lapsed on June 21, last year the state government was yet to renew it, mostly due to the controversial swapping clause in the lapsed MoU, officials said.

The swapping clause in the lapsed MoU had also been criticised by the Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh while according the final forest clearance for Posco`s greenfield mega steel project.

"The MoU with Posco-India had provisions for export of iron ore which made me deeply uncomfortable. I would expect that the revised MoU between the state and Posco would be negotiated in such a manner that exports of raw material are completely avoided," Ramesh had said on May 2.

Chief secretary B K Patnaik said the state government was examining the suggestion given by the Union minister. "The department secretary will give his view on the subject," he said.

Though the Union minister has raised the issue, the Ministry of Commerce did not ban export of iron ore, the chief secretary pointed out adding that the state government was examining what can be done on the matter.

"As it is export is allowed by the Ministry of Commerce.

However, the environment minister has objected to it. We will take a decision on the matter after thorough examination soon," the chief secretary said.

Meanwhile, a delegation of Posco today met the chief secretary and held discussion on the renewal of the MoU and other matters.

The delegation thanked the state government for progress in the land acquisition process for Posco project, a senior official said.