Even as the process of land acquisition for the controversial Posco steel project was abandoned following resistance from anti-Posco activists, the inter-ministerial group (IMG) meeting on issues relating to South Korea, scheduled on April 23 in Delhi, assumes significance.
The inter-ministerial group, formed to oversee the progress of mega steel projects in the country, had to skip the March 25 meeting on Posco project as none of the representatives from the company turned up. The meeting on April 23 is a preparatory one for the second joint committee meeting at the ministerial level in South Korean capital Seoul sometimes in May, official sources said.
The Union Steel Ministry has reportedly requested the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to revalidate environmental clearance for the $12 bn Posco project to avoid unnecessary hue and cry being raised by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and anti-project organisations during land acquisition.
Though the expert appraisal committee (EAC) of MoEF had recommended revalidation of environmental clearance for the project in June last year, the matter is still pending with the ministry. Posco had earlier projected its land requirement at 4,004 acres for the proposed 12 million tonne per annum (MTPA) integrated steel plant.
However, the company later scaled down its requirement to 2,700 acre for the start of first phase work envisaging 8 mt capacity.
Meanwhile, the State Government has already acquired about 2,100 acres land and has already handed over 546 acres of land to Posco. IDCO is ready to hand over another 1,554 acres of land to Posco, but the company is not ready to take over the land due to public unrest in the area.
The State Government is confident of acquiring the balance 600 acres of land within the next four months, official sources said. The company was told to achieve certain milestones ahead of the renewal of its Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the State Government.
While no tangible progress has been achieved for grant of mineral concession due to cases pending in the Supreme Court, the company has applied for revalidation of its MoU with the State Government, which expired on June 21, 2010. The Industrial Promotion and Invest Corporation of Odisha Limited (IPICOL) has recommended extension of the validity of the MoU for a further period of six years.
[Source — The New Indian Express]