Team reviews green nod to Posco

 A four-member team of experts from the Union Ministry of Environment and forests (MoEF) is currently in Odisha to make a fresh assessment of the environmental impact of the proposed Posco steel project in coastal Jagatsinghpur district.

The team headed by K Ray Paul had made a spot visit to the affected areas in Jagatsinghpur on Tuesday and subsequently held discussions with the state government officials here on Wednesday.

The team members have said that they would be submitting their report to the environment ministry very shortly.

In March this year, the National Green Tribunal in New Delhi had suspended the environmental clearance given to the multi-crore South Korean steel project while responding to a petition filed by a few activists from the state. The MoEF had sanctioned the clearance last year.

The tribunal had directed the ministry to conduct a fresh assessment on the environmental impact of the prestigious project through a new expert committee. And as per that directive, the committee visited the state on Tuesday and Wednesday.

If reports from Jagatsinghpur district are to be believed, though the committee members, accompanied by district officials visited several affected villages, they reportedly skipped some areas where local villagers were agitating against the proposed mega project. This has angered the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) which is spearheading the people’s movement against the project.

Though the Odisha government has already acquired more than 2,000 acres for the proposed steel plant, the project is yet to take off mainly because of disputes over land as well as environment. The state government has also not been able to renew its memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the South Korean steel major for implementation of the project though it (the MoU) has expired more than a year ago. The Odisha government and Posco had signed the MoU in 2005.

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