Posco brass meet PM, no move on Odisha

New Delhi: South Korean steel company Posco’s CEO Kwon Oh-Joon called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi here today and is believed to have discussed new investment plans in Gujarat and Maharashtra, besides its much-delayed USD 12-billion Odisha project.

“Posco officials, who called on the Prime Minister today, discussed with him the company’s India investment plans which include big plans for Maharashtra and Gujarat,” an official privy to the development said.

“They also shared ideas about the Odisha project and discussed the overall developments on the project so far,” the official added.

The Korean company’s proposed 12-million tonne per annum (MTPA) project at Jagatsinghpur district in Odisha is stalled for about a decade.

Posco-India CMD Gee Woong Sung and Korean ambassador Joon-Gyu Lee also met the Prime Minister.
The official said so far there has been no new development on Odisha project and the State government is still to renew the pact for setting up the plant.

Assuring the steel giant of allocating a mine to meet its raw material requirement, the Odisha government has sent a proposal to seek the Centre’s approval for grant of prospecting licence to Posco for iron ore over a notified area of 2082.50 hectare.

However, the Mines Ordinance, promulgated recently provides for allocation of all mines through auction route.

Caught between Odisha’s assurance and Centre’s ordinance for auction, Posco’s wait for getting mines to feed its initial 8-MTPA plant is likely to be little longer.

However, a Posco official said, “We have to study the ordinance. We will take proper action only after that.”

Odisha Steel and Mines minister had said yesterday, “The nation will be sending a very wrong signal to the international investor community by completely ignoring these international commitments for supporting the raw material requirement of the project.”

However, Union Steel and Mines minister Narendra Singh Tomar has said after the passing of the ordinance, all mines would be allocated through auction route only and there would not be any allocation through the dispensation route.

Even as the company signed MoU with the State government for setting up a 12-MTPA capacity steel plant over 4,000 acre of land, it later decided to reduce land requirement to 2,800 acre and capacity to initial 8-MTPA.

The project, which would involve the largest-ever FDI in India, received environmental clearance in January this year.