BHUBANESWAR: With elections less than a year away, the Naveen Patnaik government has asked Posco to aggressively implement corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects ostensibly to ward off the challenge posed by the anti-industry lobby as well as woo the electorate.
A day after the state government announced that it had completed acquiring 2700 acre required for the Posco’s proposed mega steel project’s initial phase in Jagatsinghpur, sources said senior government officers had asked the company to step up CSR work in the project area.
“We are targeting to transfer the land to Posco by July-end,” chairman-cum-managing director, Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Idco), Vishal Dev told. “We have asked the company to speed up its CSR work,” he added.
Official sources said a meeting of senior government functionaries with top honchos of Posco is expected in the last week of July to chalk out CSR and other strategies with a view to giving the country’s biggest FDI project a major push. “With land acquisition coming to an end, there is much hope that the project would takeoff and the local populace benefit. We have to ensure such hopes are not dashed. For this, the company has to shoulder a lot of responsibility,”an officer said
Sources said government officers, during informal discussions, have told company representatives to earmark at least Rs 100 crore for periphery development and CSR activities for the $ 12 billion project.
Posco India general manager (external relations) I G Lee did not specify any amount for CSR work, but said the company was committed to it. “We have been doing some CSR activities like road construction. We are very clear that we would expedite our CSR initiatives based on the progress of our project,” Lee told TOI.
Ruling BJD sources said the government wants certain things concerning Posco to be ready within the next few months so that chief minister Naveen Patnaik could perform the ‘bhoomi puja before the next elections.
“Posco is one of the major projects of the country. After eight years delay, the government has succeeded in acquiring land. Other issues relating to the project like environment clearance, mining linkage and MoU renewal are also likely to be sorted out soon. Hence, we plan to showcase it as one of the successes of the government,” a senior BJD leader pointed out.
But the project’s opponents have not given up on their fight. “We have been resisting it and shall continue to do so, tooth and nail,” Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti general secretary Sisir Mohapatra said. “We demand scrapping of the project and condemn the government’s pro-industry attitude. We would intensify our struggle against it,” he added.
(Times of India, 6 July 2013)