Centre likely to twist NHDP route to link Posco project to Paradip

New Delhi, Jan 4 | Updated: Jan 5 2006, 05:30am hrs
The Centre is planning to include the Talcher-Duburi stretch on NH-200 in Orissa under phase IIIA of the National Highway Development Programme (NHDP) to facilitate Korean steel giant Poscos proposed $12 billion steel project in Orissa.

The ministry of roads, highways and shipping is expected to approach the Cabinet soon for modifying the NHDP to include the stretch.

Posco has earmarked the stretch as a potential linking route from the proposed steel plant to Paradip Port, and to the companys captive port, coming up at Jatadhari. The captive port is just 7 km away from Paradip port.

According to highly placed sources, Posco officials had met the Prime Minister in August 2005 to discuss the possibility of shortlisting road links to their upcoming plant from the port. During discussions, the aforementioned route was suggested by the Korean major to the PM.

Consequently, the ministry has asked the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to prepare a detailed project report (DPR) on the stretch. The DPR would pave the way for four-laning of the stretch, thus providing road connectivity to the Posco plant.

Sources said as the stretch is not a part of NHDP, the ministry would be requesting the Cabinet soon to include it under phase IIIA, which involves four-laning of all national highways.

Incidentally, two more stretches, namely, Chandikhol-Duburi (39 km) coming under NH-200, and Keonjhar-Panikholi (NH-215), were also discussed during the meeting with the PM by Posco authorities. Both these stretches are part of NHDP-IIIA and DPRs for both the stretches are currently under progress.

Posco officials were, however, more keen on Talcher-Duburi stretch, as it apparently provides better connectivity to their plant from Paradip port, and more significantly to their own captive port.

The Centres move to facilitate Posco comes after the Orissa government allowed it to export 30% of iron ore from its captive mine under a swap arrangement. The state governments decision remains controversial and has faced opposition from both domestic industry and political parties.

As Poscos proposed $12 billion investment for 12 million tonne steel plant is the single largest FDI proposal in the country, governments are going all out to see that it comes up without any hurdles.