In what appears to be a setback to Posco’s dream 12-million ton steel project in Orissa, the National Green Tribunal on Friday suspended the environmental clearance that the project received in January 2011. The clearance was given by former environment minister Jairam Ramesh.
The Tribunal has also asked the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) to review the clearance afresh.
The Green Tribunal alleged that there was evidence of departmental bias in the clearing of the project, pointing out that Meena Gupta, the officer appointed was from Odisha, reported CNN-IBN.
The Tribunal also noted that the environment impact assessment was only for 4 million tonnes per annum, whereas the actual capacity of the project as declared by Posco is 12 million tonnes per annum.
Posco will now have to go back to the Environment Ministry and stand in line for a licence all over again.
The cancellation comes just a few days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured South Korean businessmen that their “investment” was safe and the Posco project, the biggest FDI investment in India, will continue.
Sensing the concerns of the Korean businessmen with regard to the much-delayed $12 billion Posco steel project in Odisha, the Prime Minister told the CEOs in Seoul, “our processes can be slow but there are effective mechanisms for resolution of problems and differences and a strong rule of law.”
“The government is keen to move forward with the Posco project and there is some progress in this regard. I believe that India is a stable and profitable long-term investment opportunity.”
Posco had signed a MoU on 22 June, 2005 with the Odisha government for setting up an integrated steel plant with the total capacity of 12 million tonnes per annum. But the project had been mired in controversy because of local protests and faulty environment impact assessment report.