The Odisha government said on Saturday that POSCO had requested it to take back the land acquired for a mega steel plant that the South Korean steel major proposed more than a decade ago.“Recently, POSCO authorities sent a communication to the Odisha government. Since POSCO had not started construction as per the conditions in the lease agreement, the company requested the government to take the land back,” State Industries Minister Debi Prasad Mishra said here. “Subsequent to receiving the letter from POSCO, we secured the Chief Minister’s approval to keep the land parcel in the land bank being created for setting up future industrial projects.”The company had signed a memorandum of understanding with the State government in June 2005 to set up a plant with a capacity of 12 million tonnes a year and a captive port at an estimated investment of ₹52,000 crore near the port town of Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district. It was then the largest FDI received by the country.People’s protestThe people, however, protested against the acquisition of 4,004 acres of land, saying that the industrial project would spell doom for their livelihood based on betel farming and fishing.The curtains fell on the much-hyped project when a Central amendment to the Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation Act in January 2015 necessitated POSCO to go through the auction route to get iron ore mines. Since there was uncertainty in securing a captive mine, the company started folding up its operation in the State.By that time, the State government had transferred 1,723.78 acres of land to POSCO through the Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation.With this, one of the most intensely fought land acquisition processes came to an end. During the decade-long protest, several hundred villagers were arrested by the police for blocking land acquisition. Over 1,200 non-bailable warrants were pending for execution in the project area. As the process of acquisition slowed down, the police stopped executing warrants.