Posco, the South Korean steel behemoth, has offered to set up a Rs 10,000-crore joint venture plant with Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) in the industrial town of Kulti, Burdwan, about 200 km from Kolkata. Land acquisition will not be an issue here, because the project will come up on the land of Growth Works, a SAIL-owned plant that is in the red.
Posco (Pohang Iron and Steel Company), which is locked in a long and bitter land dispute for its Rs 52,000-crore plant in Orissa, has recently got clearance from the Union environment ministry to acquire forest land for the Orissa project. Wiser by the five-year ordeal, it is looking for ‘clean’ land for its venture with SAIL. The Kulti Growth Works fits the bill. It would take only an agreement with SAIL to start the project.
Sources say Posco is keen on getting started early, possibly in the next six months.
On Monday, four top Posco officials, including two general managers, visited the Kulti plant, which belonged to the erstwhile IISCO and is now under SAIL’s growth division. Kulti Growth Works GM Probal Gupta showed them around. Sources said that the Posco officials are pleased with the land, especially since they won’t have to go through the political minefield of acquisition.
SAIL executive director (works) S Subhedar confirmed the Posco visit. “They will submit a detailed project report to SAIL. It was their maiden visit and the project is in a preliminary stage,” he said. Asansol MP and chairman of Asansol Dugrapur Development Authority (ADDA) Bansa Gopal Choudhury welcomed the development, saying the Posco plant would be a huge boost to Bengal’s investment scenario.