Bhubaneswar, May 15 (PTI): A scary abduction episode and nagging land woes will not frighten away South Korea’s Posco from Orissa, where the company plans to start work on its Rs 52,000-crore steel plant in October.
“We have been delayed by about six months, but we hope to start preparatory work on the ground from October,” Posco India chairman and managing director Soung-Sik Cho said here.
The project, an agreement for which was signed with the Orissa government nearly two years ago, has been plagued by land acquisition problems with locals opposing plans to displace them.
The catharsis of this struggle was the abduction of three Posco officials at Gobindapur village near Paradip — the proposed site for the project — on Friday.
While a woman employee was released immediately, the other two were let go after 10 hours in captivity.
“But Posco-India has decided to continue its efforts to directly reach out to the people of the area and inform them about what the company wants to do there and the resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) package readied for those who would be required to be displaced,” Cho said.
Of the 4,004 acres the Korean company requires for the project, only 438 acres was privately owned with eight villages belonging to three panchayats of Dhinkia, Nuagaon and Gadakujanga needed to be relocated.
About 3,566 acres was owned by the state government, of which 3,100 acres is forest land and requires the Union forest and environment ministry’s clearance.
“The state government has scrutinised the matter and will send the proposal to the central government soon. It may take some time but we hope the process will be completed in three months, say by August next,” Cho said.
The next three months will be crucial as decisions on forest clearance and permission for prospecting licence for iron ore mines are expected as also for the progress on land acquisition, Cho said.
“At the moment we are trying to complete the land acquisition and continue the dialogue with the people. May be, we will conclude the acquisition of private land before October so that work can start,” the CMD said.
Cho also dismissed claims that about 22,000 people in the three panchayats would be required to be displaced.