New Delhi: Concerned over delays in environment clearance to South Korean major Posco’s Rs54,000 crore steel project in India, steel minister Virbhadra Singh on Friday said that all ‘hurdles’ should be removed from its way ‘expeditiously.
He said the demand for speeding up the proposal is not because of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s scheduled visit to South Korea next month, but is in view of new technology the project promises to bring into the country for steel making.
“Our demand is that hurdles (in environment clearances to Posco) should be removed expeditiously. Whether or not PM goes to South Korea next month, the demand is not dependent on that. We want the technology to come in India as soon as possible,” Singh said on the sidelines of a Steel Summit here.
“PM is aware of the matter. The Posco project is pending with the environment ministry for long,” he added.
South Korean steel major had signed a pact with the Orissa government in 2005 for setting up a 12 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) steel plant at Jagatsinghpur in Orissa.
However, the project has failed to take off due to various regulatory hurdles. The project promises to introduce a new technology for making steel -- Finex, through which low grade iron ore and coking coal can be used for steelmaking at much lower cost.
The 72-million-tonne domestic steel industry mainly consumes lumps at present, as it lacks the expensive Finex technology required to refine the fines. About 50% of the iron ore produced in the country is exported and fines constitute 85% of exports.
India produced 230 million tonne of iron ore last fiscal, out of which 106 million tonne were shipped out. Earlier this week, Singh was peeved by the appointment of ‘activists’ in the forest panel for clearing the project had advised environment minister Jairam Ramesh to be “pragmatic”.
The approach has to be pragmatic and not dogmatic, he had said lamenting that known activists were being appointed in such committees.
He was referring to the four member panel comprising three activists-- Uma Pingle, Devendra Pandey and V Suresh who have opposed Korean steel giant’s project, billed as the largest FDI in India.
Singh had stressed that the Prime Minister too was keen that the project takes off.
The Prime Minister is likely to reassure South Korean president Lee Myung-bak that India will address all issues related to Posco project.
Lee is likely to take up Posco’s case with the Prime Minister during the East Asian Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam.