Nine years on, Posco is still distant dream

MoU inked on June 22, 2005, expired in 2010

Nine years on, Posco is still distant dream

Nine years after the South Korean steel major Posco signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Odisha’s government to set up a multi-crore steel mill in the coastal Jagatsinghpur district, the project remains a distant dream.

Sunday marked the ninth year of the agreement inked between Posco and the Odisha government on June 22, 2005.

The agreement has expired in 2010, since it was valid only for five years, while the steel major and the state government are yet to decide whether to extend the original MoU or to sign a fresh one.

With instructions from the state government, Jagatsinghpur district authorities acquired 2,700 acres of land and handed 1,700 acres to Posco.

But construction work is yet to begin, amidst claims by sources that the giving away of land was only on pen and paper. Any hope that work for the project would begin after the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections have been proved unfounded close to a month after the new government assumed office.

On the other hand, the project’s stalling has been a morale booster for Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), which spearheads anti-Posco agitation in the area.

It organised a public meeting in Dhinkia, the epicentre of the anti-Posco agitation in Jagatsinghpur, to mark the ninth anniversary of the MoU signing which it regards as a black day.

 “We will continue our struggle till Posco is thrown out of the area completely”, said Abhay Sahu, the president of PPSS. The organisation has strongly opposed the recent government decision to let Posco take water for the project from the Hansua river in neighbouring Cuttack district.

PPSS has been preparing to launch a full-fledged agitation against the decision, claiming that it would severely affect farming activities.

A Hansua Surakhsa Samiti has already been formed to spearhead the agitation, which, interestingly, features names of those who play a prominent role in PPSS.

The government has assured farmers that it is only allowing Posco to draw surplus water from the river for construction purposes only, which would not affect irrigation for farming.

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