Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and the ruling Biju Janata Dal were engaged in a war of words on Tuesday, as he blamed the Odisha government for the delay in setting up the Posco project and recommending mines in favour of the South Korean steel major.

"The state government recommended mines in favour of Posco to the Union Govt three days before the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) ordinance was issued, which mandates auction of mines across the country. Why did the state government not recommend the mines 2 years earlier," asked Pradhan while addressing the media on the Narendra Modi government at the Centre completing a year in office. 

Joining issues with Pradhan, BJD spokesperson Pratap Dev said the Naveen Patnaik government had written many letters to the Union Govt on allocating mines to Posco much before issuance of the ordinance. 

The minister’s statement came a day after Odisha Steel and Mines Minister Prafulla Mallick blamed the Union Govt for not allocating mines for the $12 billion Posco project in Jagatsinghpur district. 

On May 24, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman put the Posco ball in the state government’s court, asking it to clear the air over the setting up of the project in Odisha.

Pradhan also alleged that the government did not renew the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Posco India due to internal bickerings in the Biju Janata Dal (BJD).

Asserting that the Bharatiya Janata Party was in favour of the Posco project, the petroleum minister said the union government was ready to provide all assistances, as per the rules, to the state government to help materialise the project. 

As for the uncertainty over the establishment of Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Odisha, the union minister said that the state government should not indulge in politics over finalising its proposed campus site. 

On the other hand, the BJD spokesperson urged the Union Govt to send a team to select the site to establish the IIM. 

The state government had recommended to the ministry of human resource development to set up the IIM in Sambalpur district.