Now, Posco eyes Karnataka for second steel plant

Bhubaneswar: Within days after Ministry of Environment and Forests accorded conditional clearance to South Korean steel major’s proposed Posco project in Orissa, the steel giant has been in talks with Karnataka government for setting up a six mtpa steel plant.

Posco has chosen Halligudi in Gadag district of Karnataka to build its proposed plant at an estimated investment of about 32,000 crore, according to VP Baligar, Karnataka principal secretary (commerce and industries).

Posco has sought 3,000 acres for setting up the plant and has already made an initial deposit with the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) towards land acquisition. The state government will now begin the land acquisition process, Baligar added.

“I am not in a position to give any comment on Karnataka project, but we are committed to Orissa project. Our first and full commitment is towards Orissa project,” Senior Vice President Posco Vikash Saran said.

Posco has already applied for a captive iron ore mining lease with the state government inviting bids for fresh licences.

Meanwhile, anti-Posco activists continued to lay blockades at eight different entry points to the proposed steel plant after MoEF gave conditional clearance to the steel major. The Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti spearheading the anti-project movement has been adamant not to allow government and Posco officials to go ahead with land acquisition process.

For this, the activists have erected gates made up of bamboo guarded by women.

“We won’t let Posco to take an inch of our land. Hence, we would stop and make the Posco officials, police or the administration go back if they come here,” Anti-Posco activist Babuli Rout said.

On the other hand, the pro-project activists have said, there should be amicable solution to the problem.

“Some of our demands have been fulfilled and some have not. If the government assures us to employ one member from our family, the work at the site can start,” Pro-Posco activist Tamil Pradhan said.

It may be recalled that the MoU signed between the South Korean steel maker and the state government has expired and is yet to be renewed. Besides, the state government had moved Supreme Court challenging High court order that quashed its decision to permit prospecting license to Posco for Khandadhar mines.

In addition to this, a day after MoEF gave conditional clearance to Posco, state government`s nodal officer for the project Priyabrata Patnaik on Tuesday had said it is not difficult to meet the clauses set by the Centre.

“As per FRA, if they don’t fulfill the three conditions, the state government has to give an assurance to the Centre. After getting the FRA clearance they may act accordingly as it is not difficult to meet the clauses set by the Centre,” CMD IDCO Priyabrata Patnaik said.