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Posco eager to break ground

Bhubaneswar, April 23: Posco authorities today agreed to directly negotiate with the people likely to be affected by its proposed 12-million tonne steel plant to be set up in Jagatsinghpur district.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik told mediapersons that Posco India chairman-cum-managing director Soung Sik Cho and other officials were willing to negotiate with the those looking at a possible displacement.

“We are keen that the Posco steel plant, the country’s biggest foreign direct investment project, be set up here and want to resolve the land acquisition problem peacefully,” he said.

Last week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while reviewing the major projects of the state advised the Posco officials to directly negotiate with the affected people for the land if they wanted a SEZ status.

Reiterating the Centre’s stand, official sources said, Naveen also asked Cho to negotiate for the land directly to which the Posco officials acquiesced.

However, a visibly upset Cho did not spell out whether the company would negotiate with the land losers directly. “We would do our best to overcome all difficulties relating to land acquisition. Sooner or later, all problems can be overcome and we can start construction soon,” he said the after a brief meeting with the chief minister.

Cho was accompanied by Gee Woong Sung, the company’s vice-president in charge of construction, land and clearance.

Cho also ruled out the possibility of withdrawing or shifting the mega steel plant project or any possible amendments in the provisions of the MoU it had signed with the state government in June 2005.

Asked when the state government would initiate the dialogue process with the affected people, the chief minister said the Jagatsinghpur district administration was already in touch with them.

Since the Posco project area has been out of bounds for the state government, will it use force to start a dialogue' “We want a peaceful industrialisation,” Patnaik reiterated.

Left sees red

The state government’s decision to allow Posco to use Mahanadi river water through the Taladanda Irrigation Canal for its proposed steel plant near Paradip has sent the CPI leaders fuming.

They demanded that the government should turn down the plea for use of water from Taladanda canal for industries as it would affect irrigation and drinking water supply. Else, the party threatened, it would launch a mass agitation against the government.

Gathered under the banner of the Cuttack unit of the party here on Sunday, they also said assurances given on water supply from the Taladanda canal to Posco-India’s proposed steel plant must be withdrawn.

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