Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today assured South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak of expediting the work relating to the Rs 54,000-crore Posco steel plant that has been inordinately delayed because of procedural problems.

Mr. Patnaik rushed to Delhi earlier in the day to meet Mr. Lee, who has been concerned over the delay in the implementation of the project envisaging the biggest single dose of FDI in India.

“I have assured the South Korean President that Posco project work will be expedited,” Mr. Patnaik told reporters here after meeting Lee at the At-Home hosted by President Pratibha Patil at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in honour of the visiting dignitary.

Mr. Patnaik said he told Mr. Lee that the State government would speed up land acquisition for the project, which has failed to take off in the face of stiff resistance by locals to the project contending that it would uproot them.

The environmental clearance for the project was accorded in December last year.

Mr. Lee, who was the chief guest at this year’s Republic Day celebrations, had discussed the Posco issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here last evening.

Mr. Patnaik came to Delhi as Lee wanted to meet him and discuss the issue.

Before coming to India, the President had expressed his interest to visit Posco-India’s proposed plant site near Paradip and participate in the “ribbon cutting” function.

However, he could not come to the area as the situation was not conducive for his visit.

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