Green tribunal stalls Posco plant

Green tribunal stalls Posco plant

The proposed integrated steel plant project of Posco in Odisha was further stalled, with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) suspending on Friday, the forest clearance granted by the Centre to a South Korean major.

The order comes just days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in Seoul that Posco’s project would be implemented and there was progress on it.

Reacting to the NGT order, the government maintained that a ‘very strict and transparent’ procedure had been followed by the ministry while giving environmental clearance. Maintaining that the government had been ‘totally dedicated’ to protecting the environment, Environment and Forest Minister Jayanthi Natarajan said the tribunal’s order would be ‘examined in detail.’

The tribunal observed that the project was for the production of 12 million tonnes of steel per annum (MTPA) but the environment impact assessment (EIA) was prepared only for four MTPA steel production in the first phase. It directed the Environment and Forest ministry (MoEF) to constitute a new committee to conduct a ‘fresh review’ of Posco’s plan, observing that the project had been dealt with ‘casually’ by the government. No meticulous scientific study was made on each and every aspect of the matter leaving ‘lingering and threatening’ environmental and ecological doubts unanswered, the tribunal said. “The final order dated 31/01/2011 made by the MOEF shall stand suspended till such fresh review, appraisal by the EACs (Expert Appraisal Committees) and final decision by MOEF is completed,” a NGT Bench comprising Justice C V Ramulu and Dr Devendra Kumar Agarwal held, while disposing of the matter.

It also directed that reports of the previous review committees, set up by the MoEF to look into the issues relating to grant of environmental clearance to the company, including the one submitted by former secretary in the ministry Meena Gupta, should be taken into consideration when a fresh review of the project is conducted.

“A project of this magnitude particularly in partnership with a foreign country has been dealt with casually, without there being any comprehensive scientific data regarding the possible environmental impacts,” the tribunal observed, referring to the facts and material placed before it on record.

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