Call on nod for Posco yet to be taken: MoEF

[The expert panel had visited Jagatsinghpur in August 2012, but chose not to visit Dhinkia Panchayat]

The green revalidation for the Korean major is stuck with the expert panel

Minister for Environment and Forests Jayanthi Natarajan has said the government has not firmed up its views on green clearance for the Rs 52,000-crore Posco project in Odisha.

The expert appraisal committee (EAC) was yet to submit its report to her ministry. “It is only after they submit the report that we can think about the final clearances,” Natarajan told Business Standard.

EAC has no deadline to submit the report, making the wait indefinite.

There were reports that the steel ministry wanted the environment ministry to revalidate environment clearances for the project, in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha, citing resistance from non-governmental organisations and anti-land acquisition activists.

When asked about this, Natarajan said the ministry was yet to get any such requests from the steel ministry.

According to people close to the development, the Korean major is awaiting revalidation of environment clearance.

The project was given clearance in 2005-06 but that was put on hold. Subsequently, the green tribunal visited the site and sent its report to the environment ministry. But the issue was pending with the ministry.

It is learnt that the company may start work on the site if the land required for the project was given to the company by the end of this year.

The initial requirement of land for the 12-million-tonne integrated steel plant was about 4,000 acres. The company requires at least 2,700 acres for the first phase.

The Odisha government blames the Centre for the delay in project implementation.

“The state government is in the process of land acquisition,” said Deepak Mohanty, director (mines)-Odisha. “But so far, we have not received any final word on clearances from the Centre.”

The state has acquired more than 1,600 acres for the project.

The South Korean steel major wanted to commission the first phase, with four million tonnes per annum, by 2018. Phase-II, with 4-MTPA, was expected to be completed within three years after that.

Posco had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Odisha government in 2005, and the pact was renewed in April 2012. The estimated investment for phase-I of the project was Rs 16,650 crore.

According to Posco India’s estimated requirement and the MoU signed on June 2005, the Government of Orissa had assured mining lease for 600 MT reserves, required for 30 years of operation, for the 12-MPTA steel plant.

[Source — Business Standard]

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