New Delhi: South Korea’s Posco hopes to begin work on a new 12-billion dollar steel plant in eastern India in April after a year delay caused by a “politically biased society,” a report said Monday.
The proposed unit in Orissa represents the largest foreign direct investment since the country launched market reforms in 1991 and aims to create 18,000 jobs in the next decade.
But Posco’s plans have been beset by problems since the initial pact was signed in June 2005 including opposition by communist parties who support premier Manmohan Singh’s government and farmers who say the plant will unfairly gobble up their land.
“The politically biased society here is posing lots of hurdles in setting up the steel plant and has resulted in the delay of the project of more than a year,” Soung-Sik Cho, chairman and managing director of Posco India told the Indian Express newspaper.
“We however do not intend to withdraw unless asked to leave,” he was quoted as saying.
In October, senior communist leader A.B. Bardhan warned Singh against any forced land acquisition for Posco, sparking speculation that the firm may move elsewhere.
Tensions have been high among thousands of residents facing eviction from the 4,004 acres (1,600 hectares) of coastal district earmarked for the plant.
Last year, protesters briefly kidnapped several Posco employees in two separate incidents to register their opposition.
Posco India’s senior general manager Vikash Sharan told the Indian Express that the company had worked out a compensation package for displaced farmers “that is likely to help the company start work from 1 April 2008.”