Posco to figure during Indo-Korean talks

Bhubaneswar/Jagatsinhgpur: The chief secretary has been requested by the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister to personally attend the preparatory meeting on India-Republic of Korea(RoK) Economic Cooperation to be held in New Delhi on March 19 and apprise about the progress in the establishment of the mega Posco-India steel project in Jagatsinghpur district.

The letter from the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister also stated that the Posco issue would definitely find place in the talks between Manmohan Singh and the Korean President Lee Myung-Bak. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), as per the note of the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister "has been conveying to the Republic of Korea side that while the Central Government clearances have been accorded, the project is mired in local opposition in Odisha." The Government of India wanted to know about the present ground situation in the proposed Posco site as the Korean President would raise the issue in his meeting with the Indian Prime Minister, the note stated.

The heads of the two nations have discussed the Posco issue earlier on several occasions. The Centre has been equally serious about the establishment of the mega-project billed as the largest FDI in the country. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik too had attended the `At Home Ceremonial Function` organized at the President`s House in New Delhi in honour of the Korean President Lee Myung-Bak in 2010 when he visited the country as the Chief Guest for the Republic Day celebrations. The matter also figured in the talks between President Pratibha Devi Singh Patil and her South Korean counterpart Lee Myung-Bak in July, 2011. Lee had requested President Pratibha Patil to provide all sorts of Indian cooperation to the steel project.

But the project work has not progressed much due mainly to the opposition of the locals. The proposed project requires 4,004 acres of land while only about 2,000 acres have been acquired. The project work has come to a grinding halt.

The state government inked the MOU with the South Korean steel major in June, 2005 and it has not even been renewed after its expiry. The Posco CMD had in the recent past expressed his displeasure over the way the project has been delayed.