Posco MoU renewal likely to be delayed

Bhubaneswar: After the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) accorded final eco clearance to the South Korean steel major Posco which is dubbed as the highest-ever FDI in the country, the state government is evaluating the “no-export” clause specified by the ministry before it goes ahead with the MoU renewal.

Besides, the authorities are also digging into the earlier agreement with Posco in 2005. The initial memorandum of understanding was for supply of 600 million tonnes of iron ore of 62% iron content which Posco wanted to blend up to 30% of domestic ore with imports of high grade ore with lower alumina content to feed its blast furnace.

In addition to this, the state government has asked the Posco authorities to submit their view point on the swap clause before renewal of lapsed agreement.

“In swapping case, he (Jairam Ramesh) had given a suggestion. That has to be examined. We have asked them (Posco officials) to submit their view point on this issue following which it will be examined,” state Chief Secretary B K Patnaik said.

On May 2 this year, MoEF had granted final approval to the state government for diversion of 1,253 hectares of forest land for setting up the $12 billion steel project after the state government assured that no traditional forest dwellers were dependent on or cultivating land in the project area.

While granting final nod to the project, Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh had set conditions that Posco should not export raw materials from the proposed project.

The state government is also pondering over water-linkage to the proposed project in Jagatsinghpur. Earlier, the government had assured to provide water from Mahanadi basin which was vehemently opposed by various civil society groups.

Though decks have been cleared for the South Korean steel mill, the “no-export” clause laid down by the MoEF is likely to delay the MoU renewal.