Odisha happy with Supreme Court verdict

The Friday’s verdict of the Supreme Court setting aside the Orissa High Court’s judgment quashing the state government’s decision to recommend the Centre to grant mining lease to Posco at Khandadhar hills in tribal dominated Sundergarh district for its multi crore proposed steel plant is likely to give a major boost to the state as well as the Union government as both are keen to see the prestigious but controversial South Korean project through.

Land acquisition and demarcation works for the mega steel project is currently going on in full swing in Jagatsinghpur despite protest by a section of local villagers.

In 2009, the Odisha government had recommended to the Centre to grant iron ore mines in Khandadhar hills to Posco which had been challenged in the high court by another private sector company. The state government’s move was quashed by the Orissa High Court in 2010 which had prompted the Naveen Patnaik administration to move the apex court against the judgment.The Odisha government has welcomed the Supreme Court’s verdict.

“We wholeheartedly welcome the apex court’s verdict. However, we can not comment more on the issue till we see and go through the full judgment”, said the state’s steel and mines minister, R K Singh.

The development seems to have also made Posco happy. “We welcome the judgment of the Supreme Court. We believe that this will significantly help to expedite the project”, Posco India chairman-cum-managing director(CMD) Yong Won Yoon, according to a statement released here.

A section of the analysts, however, are of the view that even if the Centre grants the mining lease to Posco, it may not be easy to implement the government order as activists have already made it clear that they would oppose any kind of mining activities in Khandadhar on environmental grounds. The activists consider the Khandadhar hills as a eco sensitive zone like the Niyamgiri hills in Kalahandi district. Once the Centre grants the mining lease, activists moving the Supreme Court against it can not be ruled out.  
The BJP has also already expressed their opposition to the move to grant Posco iron ore mines in Khandadhar.

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