October 31, 2009 1:19:26 am
The steel ministry and the Orissa government have asked South Korean steel giant Posco to expedite the process of land acquisition by directly negotiating with private land holders to fructify its Rs 54,000-crore mega steel project in the states coastal Jagatsinghpur district. This is crucial to taking project forward,which is facing public opposition.
In a meeting between a team of steel ministry officials and the Orissa government in Bhubaneswar on October 23,it emerged that unless the Korean company agrees to acquire land from private owners at current market prices,the project could slow down even further. The company requires 5,525 acres,of which 4,004 acres is needed for the project site and the remaining for a township at Paradeep. Of this,437.66 acres is private land. Interestingly,though the government has transferred the lease deed for 506.74 acres to Posco,it is yet to commence work, a source said.
Though Posco signed a memorandum of understanding with the Naveen Patnaik government on June 22,2005,for the steel project near Paradip,it failed to acquire land due to stiff opposition from local farmers. The protests were more pronounced in Dhinkia village. Notwithstanding Poscos land acquisition problems,other companies such as Bhushan Steel,Monnet Ispat and Jindal Steel are in the process of acquiring land by giving suitable compensation sources said. The Relief and Rehabilitation Plan submitted by the company to local authorities is yet to be vetted by the Rehabilitation and Periphery Development Advisory Committee (RPDAC),chaired the the divisional commissioner and comprising local elected representatives,NGOs,Posco executives and state government officials.
The state is handling the issue through the policy of peaceful industrialisation. It has pledged to galvanise mass support for the beleaguered project by offering an acceptable R&R package, sources in the state government said. The companys applications for mining leases in Khandadhar iron ore range in the states Sundergarh district havent been successful either,as it is currently awaiting its fate in the Orissa High Court.
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