Posco postpones Orissa plant ground-breaking ceremony

March 24th, 2008 - 8:39 pm ICT by admin  

Bhubaneswar, March 24 (IANS) South Korean steel major Posco Monday postponed the ground-breaking ceremony for its proposed $12-billion plant in Orissa citing procedural delays in various sanctions. The company had earlier announced it would begin work for its plant - the largest foreign direct investment in India - April 1, 2008, the anniversary of the formation of Orissa.

The company as well as the state had announced plans to hold the ground-breaking ceremony on that day.

“As on today, certain procedural sanctions still remain to be obtained, despite the best efforts of the company,” POSCO-India spokesman Shashanka Pattnaik told IANS.

“Under these circumstances, it would be difficult to perform the ground-breaking ceremony,” he said.

While the project faced protests from some of the residents in the area fearing displacement, the spokesman said: “The ground situation at the plant site has become conducive with most of the villages openly expressing their support for the project.

“This is evident from the recent successful completion of socio-economic survey as well as land demarcation work,” he said.

“The company is closely monitoring the situation and is trying its best to get the necessary sanctions,” he said.

While he hoped the ground-breaking ceremony would be held at the “earliest”, he added he could not give the exact date.

The world’s fourth largest steel maker had signed a deal with the state government in June 2005 to build the plant near Paradeep port in the coastal district of Jagatsinghpur, some 100 km from here, by 2016.

However, over 20,000 people from around 15 nearby villages have been protesting the project that it would take away their homes and livelihoods. Posco says the plant would affect only 500 families but would create thousands of jobs.

Those opposed to the project said the plant would bring pollution, displace them and ruin their betel leaf farms. On the other hand, people supporting the project say it will bring economic activities to the region and generate employment.

The company needs 4,004 acres of land out of which 438 acres are in private hands.

The state government said it had sought clearance from the central government so that it can hand over to the firm 2,900 acres that belong to the forest department. The company is also awaiting clearance for using this forestland.

It is also waiting to get prospective license of the Khandadhar mines in the state that will feed raw material to the plant.

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