Bhubaneswar: South Korean steel major Posco can start work at the proposed plant site near Paradip before signing fresh MoU with the state, the Orissa government said on Saturday.

Non-revision of MoU with the steel major was not a problem for beginning activities, it said.

"Work for the steel project and processing of the MoU can go simultaneously," chief secretary B K Patnaik told reporters.

There were several instances of allowing companies to start work at the sites much before signing of the MoU, he said, adding that the government has so far acquired over 2,000 acres for the purpose.

"We will talk to Posco-India over the matter relating to beginning of the work at the proposed plant site areas under Ersama block in Jagatsinghpur district," he said.

However, the company has to agree to begin the work on the 12 mtpa mega steel plant before entering into any formal MoU, an official at the steel and mines department said.

Replying a question, Patnaik said Posco-India had already submitted its views on the controversial export clause in the previous MoU.

"Posco-India's views on the export clause are being examined by the law, steel and mines departments. The provisions of the MMDR need to be in accordance with the content of the revised MoU," he said.

Posco, in its previous MoU signed in 2005, had wanted about 4,000 acre to set up the plant at an investment of Rs 52,000 crore. Posco in its previous MoU signed in 2005 had wanted
about 4,000 acre to set up its plant at an investment of Rs 52,000 crore.

"Since half of the company's land requirement is met, they can now easily start work in a phased manner instead of setting up the 12mtpa steel plant at one go," Patnaik said.

Meanwhile, the state government has already mobilized police force to be deployed in the proposed plant site villages with the local people opposing the construction of the approach road to the plant site.

"This time we are not going to acquire land from the villagers. Our aim is to construct the road leading to the proposed plant site," sources in Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO) said.

The state government has also set up a joint committee comprising officials of IDCO and Posco-India for expediting activities at the proposed plant site, the sources said.

Though the state government did not announce suspension of further land acquisition, the sources said efforts were on to construct the approach road and rehabilitation colony for the affected families on priority basis.
 
(Agencies)