TWO BIG-TICKET investment proposals that symbolise the onset of a new era in Odisha are: Vedanta and POSCO. When we talk of Vedanta, how can we miss POSCO? At one end the pro-investment PM - Dr Manmohan Singh- repeatedly laments about the slow progress made in advancing the cause of POSCO, Odisha, at every available opportunity. On the other end, his ministers leave no stones unturned to delay perpetually the process! Soon after the environmental clearance was awarded, after prolonged delay, it was promptly cancelled and now it’s difficult to tell if at all the clearance would ever come in the near future.
However, the determined state government once again tried to take the remaining 700 acres of land from the farmers by using force and has almost succeeded in its objective. The state government’s eagerness to grant mining lease to POSCO for procurement of raw materials has also been challenged in the court and may go the Vedanta way! Granting of SEZ status to this project is also being questioned. The possibility of procuring required amount of fresh water and other required natural resources no longer looks easy.
The list of bottlenecks and resistances faced seems unending. It’s worth repetition, with profound sadness that, 8 years back-in 2005 POSCO’s US$ 12 Billion integrated steel plant proposal was billed to be the single largest FDI into the country. There are also no two words that Odisha being the repository of large quantity of iron ore deposits – is one of the most likely places where steel plants should come up. Yet, in the last one-decade, most of these proposals have just remained in the pipelines and are slowly turning into pipe dreams! As the poor apprehensive Odias want to cling on to their small parcels of land the small minority of educated Odias ask ‘why such asymmetry’?