India assures Korea on expediting clearances for Posco

India assures Korea on expediting clearances for Posco


New Delhi: Amid rising fear that South Korean steel giant Posco might terminate its plans to start its Rs52,000-crore project here due to delays, New Delhi has assured Seoul that clearances for it would be expedited.

The assurance was given by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee during his just-concluded visit to Seoul during which he held talks with his counterpart Song Min-soon, sources told PTI.

The project, involving one of the largest foreign investments in the country, has failed to take off so far because of delay in clearances from various departments.

While all stops have been pulled out and environmental clearance for the plant given, the South Korean steel giant is facing problem in securing captive iron ore mines for its proposed 12 million tonne plant at Paradip in Orissa.

The PMO, which has been monitoring the progress of the project, has asked the state government to resolve various issues expeditiously.

Mukherjee is understood to have taken up the matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who holds the environment portfolio and stressed the need for expediting all clearances required to start the project in Orissa.

At the talks between Mukherjee and Song on Monday, the South Korean side stressed the need for early implementation of the project, the sources said.

After the talks, a joint statement said “both sides emphasised the importance of the project and agreed to provide all possible assistance in expediting its implementation."

The sources said out of 400 acres sought by Posco, 300 acres have already been allocated to the company.

The issues related to reforestation and resettlement have also been settled, they said.

A section in the government feels that continuous delay could force the South Korean company to end its plans, a development that could send a wrong signal to potential investors abroad.