Odisha to resume acquiring land for Posco

Around 2,700 acres required for project; 2,000 acres acquired

Unfazed by the stern opposition of the villagers, the Odisha government would soon restart land acquisition process for the proposed Posco steel plant in the coastal district of Jagatsinghpur.

Sources said on Thursday that the matter was discussed in detail at a meeting between Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and the South Korean steel company’s chairman-cum-managing director (CMD) Yong Won Yoon.

The multi-crore project has been delayed due to issues surrounding land acquisition process which has been stopped for last several months following the agitation by local villagers. Posco’s original plan was to set up a Rs 52,000-crore plant producing 12 million tonnes of steel per annum. Later the company reduced the capacity to eight million tonnes per annum.

Posco requires around 2,700 acres of land for the modified project of which 2,000 acres have already been acquired by the Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO), a government of Odisha undertaking, assigned to acquire the land.

In fact, the South Korean company has already been handed over about 500 acres of land. “We are hopeful of getting the rest of the land very soon. We will start construction work for the project once the state government hands over the entire 2,700 acres of land to us,” Yoon told reporters soon after his meeting with the chief minister here late on Wednesday evening. The project has already been delayed by almost seven years.

Significantly, the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between the Odisha government and Posco for the implementation of the important project is yet to be renewed though it has expired in 2010. On the issue, Yoon said his company has already handed over the required papers and documents to the state government for the renewal of the MoU.

The Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), the local organisation in Jagatsinghpur district spearheading the villagers’ agitation against the mega project, has already made it clear that it would resist any attempt on part of the state government to restart the land acquisition process. However, observers believe that the reported division in the PPSS may help the government to go ahead with the process.

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