Official-level talks between the Odisha government and the Centre on Tuesday to resolve the Posco-India steel project issue are likely to be followed by a meeting between CM Naveen Patnaik and Union finance minister Arun Jaitley in the first week of September.
Patnaik also plans to meet senior executives of Posco-India to discuss ways to save the $12-billion steel project, considered to be the largest FDI in the country.
State steel and mines minister Prafulla Mallik said state chief secretary GC Pati would meet officials from the PMO and the steel and mines ministry on Tuesday to discuss the fate of the South Korean steel major’s 12 million tonne project. Posco-India has shown enough signs of abandoning the project. The company has put on a “freeze” on investments in the plant. Recently, it inked a memorandum of agreement with the Uttam Galva Group to set up a 3 million tonne integrated steel plant in Maharashtra with iron ore sourced from Goa.
Though the state has no information about the latest intentions of the steel company, it is worried the company may quit the project. Odisha is also concerned that the 2700 acres acquired for the project may be encroached upon.
According to Mallik, the MMDR Amendment Act, 2015, has played spoilsport. It dashed the company’s hope of getting the Khandadhar iron ore mines for captive purpose. Now as the mines are going to be auctioned, it has become uncertain whether Posco will get them. Mallik has suggested the Centre should consider the mines for state-owned Odisha Mining Corporation instead of putting it under auction. Or, he proposed, the Centre sho-uld find out a way of giving the prospecting license to Posco taking into consideration the state’s recommendation for the same in the pre-amendment period.