A panel of the Union environment ministry has recommended re-validation of the green clearance accorded to South Korean steel giant Posco by five more years till 2017.
In its meeting on June 14, the expert appraisal committee (EAC) of the Union ministry of environment and forests discussed at length Posco’s application for extending the tenure of its environment clearance for five more years. The EAC said that due to delay in land acquisition and law-and-order situation, construction could not commence.
Billed as the single largest foreign direct investment, the Posco project has been in limbo since June 2005 when the company first signed a memorandum of understanding with the Orissa government.
“However, now the situation has considerably improved as a result of continuous communication of Posco-India and the Orissa government with the locals and other stakeholders. The state government is in the process of transferring encroachment-free government land to the company,” according to the minutes of the panel’s meeting.
While Posco aims to set up a 12 million tonne integrated steel complex and a 400 megawatt captive power plant at Kujang near the port town of Paradip in Orissa’s Jagatsinghpur district, the firm had applied for green clearance for 4 million tonne.
The committee recalled the earlier presentation made by the steel maker in December 10, wherein it had pledged not to import iron ore for the steel plant but indent on local resource and procure the raw material from the Orissa Mining Corporation pending clearance of its mining rights.
The project has been mired in controversy and had come to a halt due to local opposition over compensation and environment concerns from residents of villages around the project site.
Prime Minister’s office made intense efforts in March before heading to South Korea for an economic summit. Seoul has been asking New Delhi to expedite implementation of the project. During his last visit to India in 2010, South Korean president Lee Myung-bak raised the issue with Singh. The company needs about 4,000 acres of land but is understood to have acquired over 1,500 acres so far.
[Source — The Indian Express]