No negative attitude towards Posco:Chief Secretary

Bhubaneswar: Rejecting the allegation made by certain senior executives of Posco-India, the state government on Friday said it harboured no `negative attitude` towards the South Korean steel major`s proposed 12 mtpa greenfield steel facility near Paradip.

"We have extended all support to Posco-India`s project. The state has no negative attitude towards the project and its developer," Chief Secretary B K Patnaik said.

The state government`s remark came a day after Posco-India`s Chairman-cum-Managing Director (CMD) Yong-Won Yoon expressed regret over state`s `attitude` towards the project at a seminar held at Paradip, about 12 km from the company`s proposed project site.

Though Posco had earlier decided to conduct its seminar at Nuagaon, one of the villages in the proposed plant site area, it had to shift the venue as police didn`t allow. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and the Chief Secretary also did not attend the seminar.

Responding to the charges by Posco-India`s CMD Yoon that the local police did not allow South Koreans to enter into the plant site area, the chief secretary said, "as such there was no ban on the entry of foreigners including South Koreans into the area. However, the local police restricted their movement to the area from the law and order point of view."

The chief minister said the state government had earlier suggested to the steel major to hold its seminar at the state capital. But, the company insisted for conducting it at the proposed plant site area but the situation was not conducive for such programme, he said.

The chief secretary said the state had already acquired about 2,000 acres of land for the purpose of building Posco-India`s Rs 52,000 crore project. "The state government is committed to the project and working towards setting up the mega steel plant near Paradip," he added.

Yoon on Thursday said "we have written to the government several times for lifting of the travel ban as the restriction has virtually turned the POSCO officials immobile. We are unable to do the ground work and win the confidence of villagers."

Once state government hands over 2700 acres of the required 4,004 acre of land, the company has made up its mind to resume construction work of the proposed plant.

The first phase of 12 MTPA steel plant would get operational by 2016 year, he said. Though the state government signed MoU with Posco-India in 2005, the project could not take off even after seven years due to opposition from the local people.