After 8 years, Posco gets green nod

After 8 years, Posco gets green nod

South Korean giant Posco has won environmental clearance to build a Rs 52,000-crore steel plant in Odisha, ending eight years of wait for a project that would involve the largest-ever foreign direct investment in India.

The clearance, which came a week before South Korean President Park Geun Hye’s India visit, will however be conditional to Posco spending on “social commitments”, which will raise the project cost by $600 million to $12.6 billion.

The new Environment Minister M Veerappa Moily last week revalidated environment approval for the project. The approval came after the steel plant was delinked from the port project. 

The nod will pave the way for Posco to build a steel plant with an annual production capacity of 12 million tonnes.

“Yeah, I have cleared it (the Posco project). The approval was given about a week back,” said Moily. Posco’s integrated steel plant and port project was to originally come up on some 4,000 acres in the coastal town of Jagatsinghpur. However, environmental clearance and land procurement held up the project since 2005.

The steel project had received initial clearance from the Environment Ministry in 2007 and final approval was granted in 2011. The National Green Tribunal (NGT), a quasi-judicial body, however suspended the permit in March 2012 citing environmental concerns.

“Yes, we have just received the environment clearance and expect the project to move ahead after obtaining nod from the NGT for felling green trees,” said Posco India spokesman I G Lee. The NGT in May had put on hold felling of trees for the project.As part of the approval given by Moily, Posco must spend 5 per cent of its total investment on “enterprise social commitments”, which will push to cost up by $600 million to $12.6 billion.

The environmental clearance comes nearly nine months after a government-appointed panel of experts recommended reinstating an earlier environment clearance given to the steel mill.

Lee said the environment nod was given asking the company to spend about 5 per cent of the total investment on enterprise social commitments.

He said the company was also hopeful of lease agreement with Odisha government soon, after which it would start work on the 4 million tonnes first phase plant.

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