Parties bicker over Posco plant

Bhubaneswar: Political bickering has begun after Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik met Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi on Thursday requesting him to resolve the deadlock over Posco.

Mounting attack on the BJD government, senior BJP leader Biswa Bhusan Harichandan said, “Discussions and land acquisition are being done without signing an MoU with the company. It is an effort to mislead the people of Odisha. They (the government) do not have any vision on setting up of industries.”

Echoing similar sentiment, former OPCC president and senior Congress leader Jayadev Jena said, “The Congress-led UPA government was serious about the establishment of the plant in odisha. The then prime minister Manmohan Singh had asked the State government for support so that the project could be set up. But, the state government did not cooperate.”

Countering the attack, BJD spokesperson Amar Satapathy said the government would not have taken appropriate decisions, if it was having motive to mislead people.

Posco, which proposed to set up a 12 MTPA greenfield mega steel project near Paradip, unanimously decided to put the project on hold. The company also did not inform the state government about its decision.
Though an official level meeting between the Odisha government, Posco and the Steel Ministry was held earlier at Delhi to resolve the matter, it failed to yield any result.

“Therefore, Patnaik urged the Centre to organise another ministerial high-level meeting to resolve the matter,” a Steel and Mines Department official said.

Billed as the highest FDI in the country, the project has not progressed much due to several reasons, including local protest over land acquisition, after the state government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Posco in 2005.

Though the MoU for establishment of the steel plant has lapsed, it is yet to be renewed.
The State’s Steel and Mines Minister Prafulla Kumar Mallik said that the raw material linkage for the project can be provided through Odisha Mining Corporation.