South Korean steel-maker Posco’s $12 billion (Rs 70,000 crore) project (later scaled down to Rs 47,000 crore) in Odisha is almost a case study of how not to go about acquiring land.
The state government signed an MoU with Posco in 2005 to set up a steel mill, which was scheduled to start production by 2011. After signing the MoU, the government decided to displace locals occupying over 4,000 acres in a rich agrarian area, leading to anti-industry agitation and inordinate delays.
The correct way forward, say experts, would have been to acquire land beforehand, pay compensation to displaced people, develop infrastructure and then sign MoUs with companies keen on investing in the state.
“There is no point in signing MoUs with 50 steel companies when you cannot provide land,” said an official in a big steel company that is still struggling to get land.