POSCO defers ground-breaking ceremony

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Bhubaneswar, Mar 24: The much-awaited ground-breaking ceremony of the 12 MTPA capacity steel plant by the South Korea Steel major POSCO has been deferred in the absence of certain procedural sanctions. POSCO-India earlier announced that the ground-breaking ceremony would be held at the project site in Jagatsinghour district on April 1, on the eve of the Utkal Divas.

However, the activists of the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), the organisation spearheading the agitation protesting against the steel plant had announced that it would take law into their hand if the POSCO went ahead with it plan for the ground breaking ceremony on the Utkal Divas. The government had decided to allow POSCO-India to lay the foundation stone for the multi-million dollar Project at Balitutha and imposed prohibitory orders at Balitutha with a radius of 3 kms, apprehending breach of peace by the anti-POSCO activists.

PPSS President Abhaya Sahu even went to the extent of stating that the anti POSCO agitators would violate the prohibitory order imposed u/s 144 CrPc by the Orissa government and organise a mass rally on April one at Balitutha to oppose the ceremony.

However, POSCO-India Spokesman claimed that with most of the villages openly expressing their support in favor of the project, the Company had earlier decided to organise the ground breaking ceremony on April 1.

But certain procedural sanctions, which were yet to be cleared despite best efforts of the company, forced POSCO-India to defer the ceremony as the company felt that it would be difficult to perform the "Ground Breaking Ceremony" on April 1 next under the present circumstances.

The Spokesman said the local support to the Rs 51,000 crore mega steel plant, the largest FDI in the country, was evident from the recent successful completion of socio-economic survey as well as land demarcation work in the project area despite protest from the PPSS. The company, he said, was closely monitoring the situation and trying its best to get the necessary sanctions so that it would pave way for holding the "Ground Breaking Ceremony" at the earliest.

POSCO had signed the MoU with the Orissa government in June 2005 to set up 12 MTPA capacitymega steel plant, a captive port and a thermal power plant over 4000 acres of land near Paradip in three phases.

The first phase of the project with 3MTPA capacity was scheduled to be commissioned in 2010 but a stiff resistance and violent agitation by the local people opposing the plant on their fertile land had already delayed the project plan.

For almost two years neither the government officials nor the POSCO officials could manage to enter the project site to undertake the survey work as the anti POSCO activists had blocked all the entry points to their villages by erecting gates and guarding them round the clock.

It was only recently the district administration could enter into the area and conduct the survey work in a bid to facilitate to the POSCO-India to go ahead with the proposed steel plant.

The PPSS President, however, alleged that the recently concluded socio-economic survey at the proposed POSCO sites was faulty as the district administration had completed the survey work forcibly by using ''goons and deploying police force''during the survey.

UNI

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