New Delhi: South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s visit this week will see the multi-billion-dollar Posco steel plant project in Odisha, the biggest FDI in India that has been hanging fire for the past seven years, finally getting off the ground.
With the environment ministry giving the estimated Rs.52,000 crore/$12 bn project the green signal last week, the integrated steel plant is set to move forward, officials said.
“The project is set to move ahead,” said external affairs ministry Joint Secretary (East Asia) Gautam Bambawale at a briefing here.
He said with the environmental clearance and the acquisition of 2,700 acres of land by the Odisha government, “we can now move forward with the project in the coming weeks and months… and hope Posco India will commence with the project very, very soon.”
Instead of the original proposed 12 million tonnes per annum steel plant, Posco would now go ahead with a 8 MTPA steel plant for which the land had been acquired, he said.
President Park is arriving Wednesday on a four-day visit during which she is to discuss the progress of the project with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Posco’s integrated steel plant and port project was earlier set to come up on 4,000 acres. Implementation of the project, inked in 2005, was held up due to protests by local villagers over environmental concerns. Hundreds of villagers who would be displaced due to the project, coming up in Jagatsinghpur in Odisha, have decided to stage protests against the project during the India visit of President Park.
While giving the green signal to Posco, the environment ministry has asked it to spend five percent of its total investment on “social commitments”.
India and South Korea would also seek to boost their defence ties during the visit of the South Korean president that comes ahead of the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is to be the chief guest at the Republic Day Parade.
According to Bambawale, ties between India and South Korea have “quickened and deepened over the last few years… much more than earlier”, with many Indian companies also investing in South Korea.
In the defence sector, both countries have engaged in wide-ranging talks, as also in other spheres like anti-piracy actions in the Gulf of Aden. Both have also carried out naval exercises.