Posco positive: PM to tell Seoul

Manmohan Singh

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will reassure South Korea President Lee Myung-bak that India will address all issues related to Pohang Steel Company's (Posco's) proposed $12-billion steel project in Orissa in a "constructive manner."

Posco India, which first announced the setting up of the massive plant five years ago, is facing environment roadblocks.

Lee is likely to take up Posco's case with Singh tomorrow. The two leaders, who are here for the East Asian Summit, are scheduled to have a bilateral meeting on Friday morning in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, who is accompanying Singh on the last leg of his three-nation (Japan-Malaysia-Vietnam) tour, said, "All (Posco-related) issues have been looked into deeply by the government. Surely, we will be able to reassure South Korea that these will be addressed in a constructive manner."

Addressing media persons on board the PM's special aircraft along with Latha Reddy, Secretary (East), Sharma said that Posco has been discussed with South Korea at previous meetings also. "It is also India's biggest foreign direct investment," he said, adding that India appreciated South Korea for the investments it has made in areas such as car manufacturing and consumer goods.

An ad hoc four-member committee set up the Ministry of Environment and Forests had, in a report on October 18, recommended that preliminary environmental clearances given to the project in 2007 be withdrawn because of serious violations in the Environment Impact Assessment report. Former MoEF Secretary Meena Gupta, a member in the panel, however, submitted a separate report recommending Posco be given a go-ahead subject to completion of a comprehensive Environment Impact Assessment. Gupta had also questioned the committee's authority to recommend against the project in conversation with The Indian Express.

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