Talks between the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Odisha government and South Korean company Posco on Tuesday to revive the firm’s proposed 12 million tonne steel project ended in a stalemate.
At a meeting convened by the PMO to explore ways to revive the sagging fortunes of Pohang Steel Company or Posco’s project worth Rs 52,000 crore in Odisha ‘s Jagatsinghpur district, the South Korean company’s India representatives said the firm cannot proceed on the steel plant “in the current format.” They argued that project has already sustained a huge delay of ten years despite sustained efforts for securing land and ensuring raw material security.
“They (Posco India officials) did not say that the firm is pulling out of Odisha. But they made it clear that in the current format or present situation, they would not be able to proceed,” a source privy to the meeting told this newspaper. Top PMO officials sought to allay the company’s apprehensions and said due efforts would be made to resolve various bottlenecks. Odisha chief secretary G C Pati, who attended the meet is learnt to have suggested that the state government is open to acquiring whatever land remains to be acquired by the steel company following which it can begin groundwork for the project.
However, Posco officials remained non-committal about proceeding ahead on the project, which is billed as the one of the biggest FDI in the country, the source said. The company had recently announced a “temporary freeze” on the project owing to lack of any significant progress. “Due to the fact that Posco officials did not exhibit any enthusiasm on the project, it is implied that the freeze would continue,” the source reasoned.
The project has been hanging fire since the firm signed a MoU with state government in June 2005. It has been dogged by land acquisition issues. The key reason for the meeting was that the Centre had recently received a communication from Odisha wherein the state had sought a review of the project.