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Secretary denies Posco delay remark

Bhubaneswar, July 26: Hours after reportedly making a statement on Posco’s proposed Orissa plant and about some other bidders, industry secretary Ashok Dalwai, while speaking to The Telegraph, denied having made any such remarks on the issue.

Earlier, a news agency had reported that Dalwai had conceded that the South Korean firm’s 12million-tonne integrated project in Orissa is likely to be “delayed further”. He also reportedly added that Posco’s application for mining lease would be considered on a priority basis, “only if they add value to its proposal.”

Dalwai made the reported statement at Hisar, Haryana. He had gone there as the head of a 27-member delegation that visited Jindal Stainless’ facility there. The panel also appointed the company’s vice-chairman and managing director, Ratan Jindal, as the brand ambassador to attract investments from Haryana.

The Orissa government delegation visited Hisar to attract ancillary and small-scale industries in north India to invest in the state in a bid to promote Orissa as a complete industrial hub.

Later, however, the industry secretary told The Telegraph that he had not made any such statements.

According to reports, Dalwai said: “It is not necessary that Posco would get a mining lease in the state as there are 40 bidders. The Korean company’s case could only be considered favourably if it adds value to its proposal.”

He reportedly did not elaborate on what “adding more value” meant. He allegedly added, “Particular cases in which the applicants add value to their proposal may be considered favourably.”

The world’s third-largest steel maker, in its MoU signed in June 2005, had proposed to build a plant in the state’s Jagatsinghpur district at a cost of Rs 52,000cr. World’s largest steel maker ArcelorMittal has also signed an MoU with the Orissa government and plans to invest Rs 42,000cr in the state.

While talking of whether the state has enough ore to accommodate both, Dalwai said: “We have enough resources to meet the requirements of both players”.

Dalwai added Posco requires 4,000 acres, of which it has acquired 700. He said the company is expected to start construction by December and commission a 4mt steel plant by the end of 2009-10.

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