Posco hints at shifting its mega project location

Posco hints at shifting its mega project location

Bhubaneswar: South Korean steel major Posco, whose plans for the Rs52,000-crore mega plant in Orissa have run into rough weather following anti-project activists taking its officials hostages on October 13, on Sunday said it would rather shift the location than invite a bloodbath.

Posco chief executive officer Ku-taek Lee had earlier announced 1 April as the date for beginning of construction of the 12 mtpa greenfield steel plant.

Posco spokesman Sashank Patnaik, quoting the decision of the board of directors, which reviewed the progress of its India project here on Saturday, said it would prefer to shift to some other place than invite a “bloodbath" in setting up the Rs52,000-crore project, the country’s largest FDI.

“Posco would like to set up its project with cooperation from local people. If they do not agree with the project, the company may think otherwise," Patnaik said.

Posco-India’s statement followed CPI general secretary A B Bardhan’s letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in which he apprehended a “bloodbath" if the Orissa government took “repressive measures" in acquiring land for Posco.

“Posco had come here to do business and not for creating social disturbance like what happened at Kalinga Nagar in Orissa’s Jajpur district and Nandigram in West Bengal," the spokesperson said.

Though the MoU for the project was signed on June 22, 2005, the company has been facing stiff opposition from the local people.

The villagers under the banner of the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti on 13 October kidnapped and subsequently released four Posco officials, including three South Koreans.

Meanwhile, the local ruling BJD MLA Damodar Rout who was silent over the issue since the beginning suddenly chalked out a series of programmes favouring the Posco project.

“I have planned two meetings at Balitutha near the project site on 24 October and 27 to mobilise support for the steel plant," Rout, a former cabinet minister in the Naveen Patnaik ministry and secretary general of the ruling BJD, said.

Rout claimed that 90% of the people in villages located near the proposed plant site, supported the project.