Orissa clears mining lease for Posco amidst protest

January 11th, 2009 - 3:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Jan 11 (IANS) Orissa Sunday said it has again recommended South Korean steel major Posco, which is building a steel plant in the state, for Khandadhar iron ore mines despite opposition from other companies and locals.”We have recommended the name of Posco for prospective licence of Khandadhar mines,” state steel and mines secretary A.M.R. Dalwai told IANS.

The recommendation letter to the central government for mining of over 2,500 hectares was sent Friday, the official said.

The state government had earlier made similar recommendation, which was challenged by many other companies for ignoring their applications.

The central government had directed the state to recommend name for the licence after giving equal opportunities to other applicants.

The latest recommendation was made after the state government found Posco meritorious among all the applicants, Dalwai said.

Saroj Mohapatra, a senior Posco official, said: “I am not aware of the development. If the state has government recommended our name it is a positive step.”

Posco plans to build a $12-billion steel plant in Jagatsinghpur district in one of the largest foreign direct investments in India.

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

The company had proposed to carry out mining in an area of about 6,000 hectares in iron ore rich Khandadhar hills range in the district of Sundergarh, which is a major attraction among the state tourist for its two waterfalls.

However, over 20,000 people from around 15 nearby villages have been protesting, saying the project would take away their homes and livelihood.

Posco claims the plant would affect only 500 families but would create thousands of jobs.

Jual Oram, a senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP, said he will not allow the company to mine Khandadhar.

“We will launch a massive protest,” said Oram, who is spearheading the protest in the region against the proposed mining project.

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