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Protests against Posco pact

Thursday 23 June 2005

Opposition parties against clause in MoU that allows export of iron ore from Orissa

BHUBANESWAR: Amidst protests by the Opposition parties, the South Korean steel major, Posco, on Wednesday signed an MoU with the Orissa Government to establish a 12 million tonne integrated steel plant near Paradip.

The Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Janata Dal (Secular) and Orissa Gana Parishad expressed opposition to a clause in the MoU that allows export of iron ore by Posco from Orissa. The Congress said it was against any provision to allow the export of iron ore by Posco.

CPI, CPI(M), JD(S) and OGP supporters marched to the Secretariat, carrying placards and shouting slogans, and tried to break the police cordon near PMG square to demonstrate against the State Government’s decision to allow Posco to export iron ore in exchange of good quality iron ore from Brazil.

Police arrested over 200 Opposition activists outside the Secretariat.

CPI state secretary Nityananda Pradhan, CPI(M) state secretary Janardan Pati, OGP MLA Utkal Keshari Parida and Janata Dal(S) secretary Jugal Kishore Nayak were among those who courted arrest.

Police and security personnel were deployed in and around the State Secretariat and the airport as a precautionary measure.

Clarification made

State Chief Secretary Subas Pani clarified at the MoU signing ceremony that in case the company needed to import iron ore of low alumina content, it would be permitted to export an equivalent quantity of high alumina content ore to its Korean plants subject to a ceiling of 30 per cent of the ore consumed by their plant at Paradip in a given year. Any export of ore by way of a `swap’ would be allowed only after an equivalent quantity of ore had been imported for the plant in the first place, he explained.

There would thus be no net outgo of ore from Orissa without value-addition and the concept of `net-nil export’ would be adopted, Mr. Pani said.

With Posco’s promise to have a plant with a capacity of 12 million tonnes, the total volume as agreed upon in the MoUs has increased to 47.7 million tonnes a year, higher than the country’s total steel production at present.

Both the Chief Minister and the Posco authorities thanked the Centre for facilitating the project.

A top official from the Steel and Mines Ministry was also present at the signing function.

Paswan’s reaction

Union Steel Minister Ramvilas Paswan said the Government would continuously monitor iron ore consumption at Posco’s proposed plant in Orissa.

Welcoming the agreement signed between the world’s fifth largest steel major and the Orissa Government, Mr. Paswan said the agreement was a step towards achieving the target of 110 million tonnes steel production capacity by 2020. - PTI, UNI

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