Kolkata/ Bhubaneswar: In a bid to clear the way for acquisition of residual land for its beleaguered mega steel project in Odisha, Posco India has cleared a proposal for investment of Rs 200 crore in various community development activities in and around the plant site near Paradip.
Out of 4,004 acres required by Posco, the state government already has clear possession of 2,000 acres. The company had pleaded that it can start work on the first two phases of the project, comprising 4 million tonne each, if it is provided additional 700 acres, mostly belonging to trouble torn Gobindpur village.
After a ground survey of the situation, the Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation of Odisha (Idco) in April this year had suggested that there was need for carrying out extensive social and infrastructural development work in the periphery of the plant site, with financial assistance from Posco, to win over the support of the local people and facilitate acquisition of required land for start of project work.
The list of developmental work lined up for the eight villages under Dhinkia, Nuagaoan and Gadakujang panchayats affected by the project and the surrounding areas include construction of concrete roads, provision of drinking water, upgradation of schools, construction of surge protection wall, assistance to self help groups and gram panchayats etc. The cost of the package is estimated at about Rs 200 crore.
It may be noted, the South Korean company, in its project report, has earmarked an expenditure of Rs 1,650 crore for the improvement of environment and social infrastructure in the project affected area. However, it was hesitant to grant Rs 200 crore for the purpose doubting the outcome of the exercise.
“The government has not revoked the restrictions put on the entry of the Korean officials into the project site. How can we contribute for such massive CSR (corporate social responsibility) activity without being able to enter the site? Besides, the company has already spent about Rs 300 crore on the project without any progress. So what is the surety that it will move forward with this additional expenditure,” a senior Posco official had pointed out a couple of months back.
But, following constant persuasion by the state authorities, the company has finally come around to grant the money for undertaking the CSR activities.
“Posco has cleared all major projects worth about Rs 200 crore for implementation of various developmental works last Wednesday as per the proposal of the state government. We are awaiting the reply of the government regarding the start of work and lifting of the ban on South Korean officials into the project site,” said a Posco India official.
“We hear all major CSR and construction projects proposed by Idco have been cleared by Posco-India recently but nothing has been communicated to the district administration yet. The project related work would resume very soon,” said Surjeet Das, additional district magistrate, Paradip.