MAC: Mines and Communities

Posco Reaches Out To People

Published by MAC on 2006-05-10

Posco Reaches Out to People

Statesman News Service, PARADIP

10th May 2006

South Korean steel major Posco today sought to allay fears over several issues, including apprehensions over the future of Paradip Port Trust and the environment, while firmly committing itself to the welfare of local people by implementing the rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) policy.

In a significant step, Posco officials headed by the company's India chief, Mr Soung Sik Cho, interacted with the media for the first time and also spoke to a few local people. The importance of today's move by the South Korean company can be judged from the fact that it had stayed away from Paradip and villages nearby till date due to the vitiated atmosphere after controversies and protests.

Breaking the ice, through a well-planned public relations exercise, Posco officials took questions from the local media here and explained the company's plans. "We want to make Orissa the industrial hub of the country and 98 per cent of the workforce in the plant will comprise locals," Mr Soung said. He also said the company would invest on a railway line connecting the port.

Thousands of people will be directly employed, he said, adding that at least 48,000 jobs will be created.

He was confident of meeting time schedules as far as completion of the first phase by 2010 was concerned.

With regard to the vexed problem of displacement, he referred to Posco's track record in safeguarding the interest of the displaced people. Both at Pohang and Gawangyang plants in South Korea, the oustees have been rehabilitated and resettled to the satisfaction of all concerned, he claimed.

Faced with a barrage of questions on the proposed, dedicated port at the Jatadhari estuary and its impact on both Paradip Port and the environment, Mr Soung said the proposed port would not hamper the business interests of Paradip Port Trust.

A scientific and technical study is being done by three independent agencies to ensure that the proposed captive port at the Jatadhari does not harm the wetlands of this coastal region and its environment, he added.

The water requirement for the mega plant will be drawn from Jobra barrage of the Mahanadi river and there will be little effect on the irrigation points and water bodies of Taladanda canal as was being apprehended by some people. There is no cause of worry for fishermen as the plant would hardly draw 0. 07 per cent of the water resource available from Jobra barrage, Mr Soung said.

The government had demarcated the land needed for Posco to start the project and the land acquisition process is likely to be completed soon, he said.

Environment impact assessments have started and reputed institutes such as the National Institute of Oceanography, Consultancy of Engineering Services of India and Danish Hydrocolic Institute of Denmark are working on it.

With fear of displacement haunting them, residents of Dhinkia today held a meeting to coincide with Mr Soung visit to Paradip. The anti-Posco leaders raised slogans against the proposed plant with trade union activists Mr Mayadhar Nayak and Mr Abhaya Sahu exhorting the audience not to give an inch of their land for the project.

The often-raised slogan at a meeting place such as this is: "Amara pana, mina, dhana amathu kei chadhai paribe nahin (No one can snatch our betel, paddy and fishing-induced economy"). They rejected the RR policy initiatives announced by the state government.
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