New Delhi: The Odisha government will soon transfer about 2,000 acres of land to South Korean steel major POSCO to begin work on its USD 12-billion project near Paradip in Orissa, stuck for seven years now.

"We have acquired 2,000 acres of land for POSCO. We have begun the process of land transfer which will be completed as soon as possible," Odisha Mines Minister Raghunath Mohanty told.

"Of the total 2,000 acres acquired by Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IIDCO), 500 acres have already been transferred to the steel major and the remaining will be done at the earliest," he said.

Mohanty said that the steel company now needs 2,700 acres of land to commence work on initial 8 MTPA plant and the state government would take all possible measures to acquire and transfer remaining 700 acres of land as well.

As per the revised strategy to set up initial 8-MTPA plant, expandable up to 12 MTPA, the Korean major requires 2,700 acres of land. It, last month, had said that it will begin work on the project by October.

For 12 MTPA project, it requires 4,004 acres of land.

Its India CMD Y W Yoon had called on Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik last month.

Mohanty said the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with POSCO would also be renewed soon and a tripartite agreement will be signed.

The USD 12 billion project (Rs 52,000 crore) is hanging fire for the last about seven years due to land acquisition and regulatory hurdles.

POSCO had entered into a pact with Odisha government on June 22, 2005 for setting up the steel mill at Jagatsingpur.

However, even if the steel giant overcomes land problems, it will have to wait for green clearances as the National Green Tribunal on March 30 had suspended the clearance granted on January 31, 2011. The tribunal directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to review afresh the approval.

The Tribunal had pointed out that memorandum of understanding between the Orissa government and Posco states that the project is for steel production of 12 million tones per annum (MTPA) but the environment impact assessment (EIA) report has been prepared only for 4 MTPA in the first phase.

The Tribunal's decision had come close on the heels of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assuring South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in Seoul earlier this year that the project ill be implemented and there was progress on it.


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