Bangalore : South Korean giant Posco’s plan to set up a six million tonnes per annum steel plant in Karnataka is in doldrums with the state government dropping plans to acquire land, in the face of opposition from farmers and religious leaders.
“Even if the farmers agree to give land, we will not acquire it in Gadag district,” Chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa told reporters Thursday.
“If Posco is interested in setting up the plant elsewhere in the state and if farmers willingly give their land, we will give in to the company,” he said.
Yeddyurappa had announced late Wednesday that land will not be acquired in north Karnataka’s Gadag, about 400 km from here.
After Gadag was chosen as the preferred site, the firm had deposited Rs.60 crore with the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB) to start the land acquisition process.
The KIADB had identified over 3,000 acres in and around Halligudi in Gadag and had sent notices to land owners, most of them farmers, for acquisition.
However, with a number of farmers opposing takeover of their land, three religious leaders, including Sri Siddhalinga Swami of Thontada Math (religious institution), joined their protests and warned Yeddyurappa of state-wide agitation if the move was not given up.
Yeddyurappa bowed to their wishes.
The Congress and Janata Dal-Secular had also joined the protest by Gadag farmers.
Besides Gadag district, Posco had identified Bagalkot and Bijapur districts of north Karnataka, as potential sites for its plant in which it proposed to invest around Rs.30,000 crore.
Farmers in Bagalkot and Bijapur are also likely not to give up their land as religious leaders like Sri Siddhalinga Swami are urging farmers to oppose the acquisition.
The religious leaders are demanding that the government take over only barren land unfit for agriculture to set up industries.
The chief minister Tuesday dropped plans to acquire over 2,000 acres of land for a special economic zone in the coastal town of Mangalore after Sri Vishwesha Tirtha Swami of Pejawar Math threatened indefinite fast. Pejawar Math is in Udupi, 350 km away from Bangalore.