Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured the Orissa government on Thursday that the Centre would take all steps needed to promote development in Orissa, in the context of red tape blocking Korean steel maker POSCO's project in the state.
He assured the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik that procedural delays and inter-ministerial issues will be addressed and the state's interests protected.
In a bid to facilitate POSCO’s $12 billion steel project, the largest foreign direct investment so far in the country, the state government was told to prepare a proposal to divert 3000 acres of forest land earmarked for the project.
The Prime Minister also discussed efforts to build political consensus to build large projects that may involve some displacement of people and their rehabilitation. The review meeting dealt with the issues facilitating the procedural approval. However, the issue of displacing locals who are dependent on these government land were not discussed, said a senior official who was present at the meeting.
Besides the Prime Minister and chief minister, the meeting was attended by the Finance Minister P Chidambaram, the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the Principal Secretary to the prime minister, and 12 secretaries from concerned Central ministries.
On the issue of acquiring land for the farmers, it as agreed that in case, POSCO wants a special economic zone (SEZ) status, it needs to acquire the land directly from the farmer and the government would not play any role.
The meeting reviewed the implementation of road, railway, port, power, coal, steel, mining and forest land development projects and discussed fixing deadlines and scheduleds to complete the projects.
On providing the prospective licence to POSCO for iron ore supplies, government sources said that since the public sector mining company Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Ltd, which staked a rival claim to POSCO, had lost its case in the Orissa High Court, it was up to the Central government to expedite the process for the Korean steel giant.
The state government also raised the issue of sharing of revenues earned from export duty imposed on iron ore in the budget for 2007-08.
“The review meeting was extremely fruitful and helped identify the problems with respect to various infrastructure projects. It fixed responsibility for taking next steps, it fixed time lines for taking decisions and implementing them and it directed the state government and the respected Central Ministries to carry forward the discussions at the earliest .
"The State Government assured the Central Government that issues pertaining to POSCO will be addressed to the satisfaction of all and that through persuasion of stake holders the project will be taken forward," a statement issued by the Prime Minister office said.