Naveen plays caution card on Posco project

The cold war that had started brewing between the state government and Posco India over the company’s decision to hold a seminar at the project site seems to be out in the open.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who has often been harping on ‘peaceful industrialisation’ in the state on Saturday said that the government needs to act with caution in implementing the mega steel project, evoking speculation on the fate of the project.

“As you know, Posco is the biggest FDI (foreign direct investment) in the country. You know I believe in peaceful industrialization. So, we need to be cautious on implementing the project. There should be no friction in the field and the district administration would ensure this,” Patnaik told reporters, here.

With Patnaik sounding a note of caution, it is unlikely to be a smooth sail for the South Korean steel major for its Orissa project, at least in the near future.

Though the project has been battling protests over land acquisition from locals, government support for the big ticket project has been more or less un-stinted, be it facilitating land acquisition or pushing the company’s case for mining lease application.

However, the tirade of Posco chairman and managing director Yong-Won Woon against the state government at the company sponsored global engineering seminar held at Paradip on last Thursday for not lifting the restriction on site visit by the company officials seems to have done the damage.

And with top government functionaries skipping the seminar, the guessing game relating to the project’s future has started among the different stakeholders of the project.

Chief Secretary B K Patnaik who feigned ignorance of the seminar on Thursday, went on the defensive a day later, saying the government will extend all possible cooperation to the Posco project.

It may be noted that Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation of Orissa (Idco) had cautioned Posco against organizing any seminar at the project site since the ground situation did not favour the holding of such a meet especially in the aftermath of the recently concluded panchayat elections in the state and release of controversial local contractor Bapi Sarkhel on bail. Sarkhel was nabbed in connection with a bloody violence that had erupted between supporters and opponents of the project on December 14, last year, during construction of the coastal corridor.

The state government’s land acquisition agency had even warned that organizing any such meet would jeopardize the best interest of the country’s biggest FDI project.

Besides, Idco had urged the Chief Secretary to impress upon Posco India authorities not to hold such a seminar, citing fears of a law and order situation that may be precipitated by such a congregation. With a anti-Posco leaders like Abhaya Sahu, Narayan Reddy and Jayant Biswal still in jail and the PPSS (Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti) ranks apparently demoralized after the outfit’s debacle in the panchayat polls, any untoward incident could not be ruled out, it warned.

[Source – Business Standard]

Comments are closed.