BHUBANESHWAR: The opposition political parties, Congress and BJP, today blamed the Naveen Patnaik government in the State for steel maker POSCO's decision to suspend its already delayed $12 billion steel plant project.
According to reports, Posco chairman Kwon Oh-joon announced after an investors' relations session in Seoul that the company has decided to tentatively stop the project as there was no visble progress.
"The project will remain at all stop unless the Indian government offers a better deal," he said.
The Posco's proposed project at Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district in Odisha with a 12 million-ton yearly production capacity has been delayed for over 10 years due to local resistance to land acquisition, environmental concerns and other reasons.
Industries minister Debi Prasad Mishra, however, said that no official communication has been received from the South Korean company in this regard. Congress and BJP are opposing the project since its inception and have no moral right to criticised the government now, he said and added that the previous UPA government had delayed granting environmental clearance to the project.
"I understand from the news reports that Posco has decided to put its Odisha project on hold and is not withdrawing from the state," he said.
The minister, however, indirectly blamed the Centre by maintaining that the new MMDR Act, which made provision for open bidding for iron ore mines instead of getting it on the recommendation of the state government, may have been the reason behind Posco suspending the project.
The Congress, however, held the state government responsible for the non-implementation of the Posco project. "The BJD government has played with the lives and livelihood of people who lost their land and cash crops for implementation of the Posco project," he said.
The state BJP questioned the sincerity of the Government for the project. "What was the state government doing for the last 10 years? There is no point in blaming the MMDR Act which came into force only this year," party spokesperson Sajjan Sharma said.
Posco had signed an MoU on June 22, 2005 for setting up a 12 mtpa steel plant over 4,004 acre of land near Paradip. The company later reduced the plant capacity to 8 mtpa thereby bringing down the land requirement to 2,700 acre after failing to acquire land in the first five years.
The IDCO had acquired 2,700 acre of land for the purpose and handed over 1,700 acre to the steel major.