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Road clear for launch of Posco's $12 billion Odisha mill: Anand Sharma

NEW DELHI: Stage is set for the launch of global steel giant Posco's Odisha project with the acquisition of about 3,000 hectares needed for the first phase, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said today. 

"For phase-1, now road is clear... To the best of my understanding, close to 3,000 hectares, if not more, of land parcel required for stage-1 is cleared," Sharma said on the sidelines of CII's Asian Business summit. 

The South Korean major 
Posco and world's largest steel maker ArcelorMittal recently scrapped their USD 6 billion (Karnataka) and USD 12 billion (Odisha) projects respectively. 

However, after scrapping its Karnataka project, Posco is working on its USD 12 billion Odisha project. 

Sharma said the state government and the Centre are working jointly so that the project could see the light of the day. "The odihsa government and Government of India are working closely together (for early launch of the project)." 

He added: "There have been difficulties, as some of the involved land was already either encroached or not free from Encumbrances. there is some forest land involved for which approvals are required..." 

He exuded confidence that obstacles in forest clearances would be removed soon. 

Last week, Odisha government had said that Posco was likely to commence work on USD 12 billion project at Jagatsinghpur as the transfer of the entire 2,700 acres to it will be completed soon. 

Posco needs 2,700 acres to commence work on first phase of the project, while the state government has already transferred 1,700 acres to it. 

A Posco official has also confirmed that work was likely to begin soon on the project after the government hands over entire 2,700 acres of the land to it. 

He had said that if everything goes as planned, the Phase 1 of the project might be commissioned in 2018. 

Phase II would be completed three years after completion of Phase I, while Phase III will be commissioned within three years after Phase II, as per the steel giant. 

The Korean major, which is not able to set up the unit for the past seven years due to land acquisition issues and agitation by the locals, has revised its land requirement to 2,700 acres from 4,004 acres earlier. 

It has also scaled down its production plan to 8 million tonnes in the first phase from 12 million tonnes earlier. 

State-run Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO), has already handed over 1,703.68 acres of land to the steel behemoth. 

The state government had signed an MoU with the South Korean company in 2005 for the 12 MTPA (million tonnes per annum) steel facility.