A week after a UN panel of experts suggested halting of South Korean steelmaker Posco’s $12 billion plant in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district, citing human rights concerns, South Korea’s ambassador to India Joon-gyu Lee on Monday sounded optimistic about the project work beginning early next year.

“I am happy to hear that the state government has completed land acquisition for the project. Since the (South Korean) president, (Park Geun-hye), is visiting early next year, we hope she would lay the foundation for the project during her visit,” Lee said here after meeting Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik.

Patnaik said, “The Posco project is now on track. We are hopeful that work will begin soon.”

Posco had signed an MoU with the Odisha government in June 2005 to set up the 12-million-tonne-per-annum steel project over 4,004 acres, which was later scaled down to 2,700 acres following protests by villagers.

On October 1, the UN’s independent human rights experts said the project reportedly threatened to displace more than 22,000 people in Jagatsinghpur and disrupt the livelihoods of thousands more in the surrounding areas.

Posco responded by saying no one had been displaced from private land and that land was acquired for the project by the Odisha government by clearing encroached areas.

Courtesy: hindustantimes