Posco sets target to start production in Odisha plant

Bhubaneswar: Steel giant Posco India has set a target of starting production within five years of acquiring the total land cleared for the first stage of the project in the state.

The Odisha government has so far handed over about 1,700 acres for setting up a mega steel plant near Paradip in Odisha's Jagatsinghpur district.

"We need at least two years for fencing and land preparation and subsequently the first stage construction of steel plant (8 MTPA) needs three years. So, we can start production in five years after we get total required land," a senior executive of the South Korean steel major said.

Stating that the state-owned Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO) has initiated land clearance work after a gap of more than one year, he said the company was hopeful of land clearance soon.

"After we are handed over the 2,700 acres of cleared land (land required for first stage: 8 MTPA), we will start work," the Posco official said.

Posco-India signed a memorandum of understanding with the state government in 2005. But work has been delayed by several years.

Giving reasons for delay of the project, he said, "The project faced several hurdles one after the other including opposition from one section of politically affiliated people, pending environment clearances and continuous demands of various stakeholders which slowed down land acquisition process."

However, during all these years, the executive claimed that Posco has followed all due process of law and complied with all conditions required by the Indian Government. We are hopeful that the State government will hand over the required land to us soon, he said.

With stiff opposition to land acquisition, the company has downsized its proposed capacity from 12 mtpa to 8 mtpa for now. However, they said, Posco would set up a 8 mtpa plant in stage-1.

Asked about the loss due to delay, the executive said, Given the increase of prices and change in market conditions, the cost needs an adjustment. After the land is handed over to us, the Company will consider and the adjustments shall be made accordingly.

The executive also rejected possibility of withdrawing from the project and said, Given the huge steel market potential of India, this country remains our main focus and we still stand committed for our Odisha project. We are hopeful that the project will be expedited soon.