PM hopeful of Posco project taking off soon

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday expressed hope that South Korean Steel behemoth Posco’s proposed 12MTPA steel mill in Odisha would start operation soon.

“I am very happy that the large-scale POSCO steel project in Odisha is set to be operational in the coming weeks, following the revalidation of its environmental clearance,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told media here during the four-day State visit of the President of Republic of Korea, Park Geun-hye.

Informing about mining lease to the company to start first phase of the project, Singh made it clear that, “Grant of mining concession for the project is also at an advanced stage of processing.”

“I conveyed to President Park our hope that this project will confirm that economic growth and environmental protection can go hand in hand,” stated Singh.

Notably, the state government last week had decided to grant Prospecting Licence (PL) to the company over Khandadhar iron ore mine. The project includes extraction of iron ore over 30 years and development of related infrastructure.

On Wednesday, Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma after a meeting with visiting South Korean Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Yoon Sang-jick had said that the Centre was in touch with the Odisha government for expediting grant of prospecting license of an iron ore mine in the state to Posco’s steel project.

“When it comes to the prospecting, comments of the Odisha government are with the Government of India and the same will be pursued. We will expedite that too, so that the stage-I (of the project) takes off,” Sharma said.

The first phase of the project would attract more than 50 per cent of the total USD 12 billion (Rs 52,000 crore) investment from Posco, he added.

Last week, the government granted the steel project the much awaited Environment Clearance with conditions, ending eight years of wait. The conditions include Posco spending 5 per cent of its investments (USD 600 million) on “enterprise social commitments” and delinking the steel project from the plans to have a captive port.