Posco’s mining linkage issue in Centre’s court: Mines minister

Bhubaneswar: With uncertainty prevailing over Posco’s Rs 52,000-crore mega steel project near Paradip, The State government said the ball is in the Centre’s court with regard to raw material linkage for the South Korean firm.

“The State government has complied with all the queries of the Centre regarding its recommendation of prospecting licence (PL) in favour of Posco. The last letter of request to the Centre on giving PL to Posco was issued on November 1, 2014,” Steel and Mines minister Prafulla Kumar Mallick said.

“As there has been no response so far from the Centre on the State’s request to give PL in favour of Posco, we have not put any condition for the company,” Mallick said adding Odisha government on January 9, 2009 had recommended 2500 hectares of Khandadhar iron ore reserve in Sundergarh district for Posco.

However, the Centre had sought more information from the state government on its recommendation in favour of Posco on January 30, 2014. The Centre wanted clarification from the State government based on a March 10, 2013 judgement of Supreme Court, the minister said.

“The Steel and Mines department on March 6, 2014, submitted all required information to the Centre,” the minister informed the State Assembly in a written reply.

The minister further said that the Centre on October 10, 2014 wanted the State to submit separate proposals on notified and non-notified areas in Khandadhar iron ore reserve.

“The State government in its reply on November 1, 2014 has requested to accord PL to Posco over 2,082.502 hectare of notified area of Khandadhar iron ore reserve,” Mallick said, adding the State was yet to get any reply from the Centre.

He said the State government has been in negotiation with the Centre over according PL to Posco over Khandadhar iron ore reserve instead of putting it on auction.

“This is because, the State government had recommended PL in favour of Posco much before the MMDR (Amendment) Bill, 2015, getting nod of Parliament,” the minister pointed out.

Claiming that the State government was committed towards Posco project, Mallick said permission has been granted to the steel major to use water from Hansua Nullha in Jagatsinghpur district while constructing the project and use Mahanadi water from Jobra in Cuttack for use in the proposed steel plant.