Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has convened a meeting on April 19 to take stock of the progress made so far in the $12 billion Posco integrated steel plant and other industrial projects coming up in the state.
Senior officials in the PMO have been reviewing the Posco project at regular intervals. But this time, the PM himself will conduct the review, and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has been asked to be present at the South Block meeting.
In preparation for this, Patnaik convened a high-level meeting here on Wednesday to figure out the problems dogging constructions at the Posco project, for which the MoU was signed on September 22, 2005. The meeting was attended by the chief secretary, industry secretary as well as the collector and superintendent of police of Jagatsinghpur district, where South Korean steel major Posco was allocated land.
The Orissa CM told Hindustan Times, "The PM has convened the meeting not for Posco project alone, but to discuss all the industrial and infrastructure projects coming up in the state". The Posco project is lagging as local villagers have blockaded the site, and are not allowing access to Posco or government officials.
The CM on Wednesday directed the Jagatsinghpur district administration to restore normalcy in these areas. Jagatsinghpur SP Yashwant Jethwa later told HT that "We have made an appeal to the people to remove the illegal blockades. We want to restore normalcy in the area as soon as possible. Those who indulge in illegal activities will be dealt with as per law".
The police have been advised to stick to persuasion rather than force.
On the mining linkage for the Posco steel project, Kudremukh Iron Ore Company which is under the Ministry of Steel, has filed a petition in the Orissa High Court against the state government's recommendation of a prospecting licence (PL) for Posco over Khandadhar iron ore mines. The Orissa governemnt had recommended the PL for Posco on December 19, 2006. According to sources, the PM is likely to be requested to use his good offices to sort out this row between the central government PSU and Posco.
The 12-MTPA Posco project is way behind schedule. As per Posco-India's plans, the first phase construction was supposed to start in January 2007 and end in December 2010. A 4-MTPA capacity steel plant would come up in the first phase and thereafter, 4 MT would be added every three years.