The Telegraph
Friday , January 17 , 2014
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Posco project on course

President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with South Korean President Park Geun-hye in New Delhi on Thursday. Picture by Ramakant Kushwaha

New Delhi, Jan. 16: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today indicated that work on the $13-billion Posco steel plant in Odisha would begin within weeks.

Singh, who met South Korean President Park Geun-hye here today, announced that India would grant visa-on-arrival to Koreans. The two leaders also discussed the possibility of setting up a Korean industrial park here.

“I am very happy that the large-scale Posco steel project in Odisha is set to be operational in the coming weeks, following the revalidation of its environmental clearance,” Singh said, adding that the grant of mining concession is also at an advanced stage of approval.

Earlier last week, the Centre granted an environmental clearance to the long-delayed project.

The mining licence, which is expected later this month, is the last hurdle for Posco.

Officials said they believed Posco would start work within weeks of receiving the mining licence. A 12.5km boundary wall for the plant is being built.

The Posco plant will be the single-largest foreign direct investment in the country. The Prime Minister was believed to be personally keen on getting the project off the ground at a time India is trying to build a strategic relationship with Korea as part of its Look East policy.

The company, which had originally announced to construct a mega steel plant of 12 million tonnes per annum capacity, has now divided it into three equal phases of 4mt per annum each because of land acquisition issues and delays in approvals.

The policy represents India’s efforts to build strategic and trade ties with the nations of Southeast and East Asia, not only on economic grounds but also to counter the threat of China.