BJD legislators cry conspiracy, betray ignorance of legal process
Terming the suspension of environmental clearance to Posco’s proposed mega steel plant as a “conspiracy”, ruling BJD MLAs today asked the Orissa government to clear doubts over the fate of the Rs 52,000 crore project.
The issue was raised in the assmbly during the zero hour when members of the treasury bench along with NCP expressed concern over the fate of the proposed mega steel plant near Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district.
“Suspension of environmental clerance to Posco’s steel project is a conspiracy against the state,” former minister and Paradip MLA Damodar Rout said.
Demanding a statement from Steel and Mines and Industries minister Raghunath Mohanty on the Posco project, Rout claimed there was no forest in the proposed plant site area as mentioned in the revenue record.
The state government had also announced not to acquire private land in Dhinkia village due to opposition from villagers.
Another senior member from Jagatsinghpur district, Bishnu Das alleged that the Centre was maintaining double standard on Posco issue.
While the Prime Minister had assured South Korean President about establishment of the project, its environmental clearance had been suspended, he said.
Das’s colleague, Ananta Das said the National Green Tribunal’s order was not binding on the state government.
NCP legislature party leader Amar Satpathy said as the state government had been acquiring land for the steel plant near Paradip, it should make its stand clear on the country’s biggest FDI.
Satpathy urged Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat to give a ruling on the Posco issue.
Chief Secretary B K Patnaik, meanwhile, told reporters that the state government was yet to get a copy of the NGT’s order on the Posco project.
We are a law abiding company: Posco
New Delhi: Amid a green panel suspending environment clearance to Posco’s USD 12 billion steel project in Orissa, the South Korean steel major on Friday said it is a law abiding company and would comply with all the directives in this regard.
“We are a law abiding company and will abide by the directives. The National Green Tribunal has asked the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) to review afresh the clearance and we will ensure that we follow all directions to us,” a company official said.
In a blow to the country’s single largest FDI, the Tribunal today suspended the green clearance granted to the much-awaited project on January 31, 2011 and directed MoEF to review afresh the clearance and attach “specific conditions” which Posco would have to follow in a “defined timeline”.
The Tribunal pointed out that memorandum of understanding between the Orissa government and Posco states that the project is for steel production of 12 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) but the environment impact assessment (EIA) report has been prepared only for 4 MTPA in the first phase.
Meanwhile, industry body Assocham said suspension of the clearance is “disturbing,” especially in view of prime minister Manmohan Singh’s recent assurance to leading businessmen in Seoul that they must have faith in India notwithstanding the delays.
The Tribunal decision came close on the heels of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assuring South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in Seoul that the project will be implemented and there was progress on it.
“Over six years of delay in giving various clearances for the USD 12 billion project which is the biggest FDI in the country will have an adverse impact on future investment climate,” it said.
The steel plant, proposed at Jagatsinghpur district in Odisha, is hanging fire for over six years due to land acquisition hurdles.
Anti-Posco activists demand scrapping of project
The anti-Posco activists have cheered the order of the National Green Tribunal suspending conditional environmental clearance granted for the Posco project. They have demanded immediate scrapping of the Rs 52,000 crore project in the aftermath of the verdict.
They also called for lifting of suspension order on the sarpanch of Dhinkia panchayat, the epicenter of anti-Posco agitation in the project area. Dhinkia sarpanch and secretary of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), Sisir Mohapatra was suspended from his post by the Jagatsinghpur district collector for misleading the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) with regard to the palli sabha resolutions against acquisition of forest land for the proposed steel mill.
“We have been critical of the then Union environment and forest minister Jairam Ramesh and Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for selling the livelihood of 4,000 people, and the laws of the land, to the highest bidder. The real truth has come after the intervention of the green tribunal. We demand complete scrapping of this project,” said assistant secretary, PPSS Prakash Jena.
Welcoming the verdict of the green tribunal, PPSS secretary, Mohapatra said, “I do not aspire to be sarpanch again, but I am determined to intensify stir against Posco project as a member of PPSS.”
The PPSS activists had been agitating against the project even after the final order of MoEF, granting conditional environmental clearance to it on January 31 last year. Owing to stiff protests, land acquisition process for the mega steel project could not take off in the Dhinkia area.
On the other hand, leaders of United Action Committee, a pro Posco outfit-Tamil Pradhan and Nirvay Samantray, remarked about the uncertainty of Posco project after the tribunal’s order, saying Posco’s fate suffered due to lack of coordination between Centre and the state governments. In its order, the green tribunal said the environment clearance given to Posco project would remain suspended till the environment ministry reviews it afresh. The tribunal pointed out that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Orissa government and Posco states that the project is for production of 12 million tonnes of steel per annum (mtpa) but the environment impact assessment (EIA) report has been prepared only for four mtpa steel production in the first phase.