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Review meet holds out hope for Posco

Agra/New Delhi, Jan. 28: Posco’s much-delayed Odisha steel project could come up for review during the first meeting of the cabinet committee on investment later this week.

The cabinet panel will oversee the implementation of projects of more than Rs 1,000 crore within time and has the right to review the decisions of other ministries on the project.

Sources said the Korean company’s 12-million-tonnes-per-annum steel project near Paradip port in Jagatsinghpur district could be discussed during the meeting of the Prime Minister-headed panel on January 30.

“We have been concerned about the delay and we will be conducting a review soon…Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is personally monitoring the progress of the project,” commerce minister Anand Sharma said during his meeting with his Korean counterpart Sukwoo Hong at CII’s annual global partnership summit in Agra today.

Posco’s Rs 53,000-crore investment plans in Odisha have been hanging fire since 2005 because of problems of land and environmental clearance.

“Posco is a key determinant to our future plans in India,” Hong said.

The cabinet panel will also decide on simplification of rules and procedures followed by ministries such as forest and environment for expeditious clearances in identified sectors. In December, the government decided to set up a cabinet committee on investment to accord single-window approval to projects of over Rs 1,000 crore.

According to government data, projects worth over Rs 200,000 crore in road, power, coal and mining sectors have been held up because of regulatory hurdle, such as delayed land acquisition and environmental clearances.

The cabinet committee on investment will address all the issues as the ministries concerned will collectively decide on a project instead of reviewing them separately. A typical infrastructure project requires clearances from over a dozen ministries and needs over 56 authorisations on issues ranging from environment to defence. The whole process takes up to two years.

Posco’s proposal to invest in a multi-product special economic zone in Odisha recently received a breather when the government agreed to give it more time to start work.