Environment panel calls for cancelling clearance to POSCO

Friday, November 19, 2010

NEW DELHI - The environment ministry’s Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) has recommended cancellation of the forest clearance given to South Korean steel major POSCO for its $12 billion project in Orissa, officials said Friday.

The FAC which was looking into the Forest Rights Act (FRA) violation by POSCO is likely to submit its report to Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh in the next two-three days.

“The project is likely to be rejected as the FAC found violation of the FRA by the company. It has recommended for cancellation of the FRA clearance,” said a senior ministry official.

The matter was referred to the FAC after the environment ministry team Oct 18 gave a divided opinion on the project, with a majority of team members seeking cancellation of environment clearance to the project for violating green laws.

Earlier, the N.C. Saxena Committee also recommended cancellation of clearance to POSCO.

When asked about the FAC recommendations, Ramesh said the ministry will take a call on POSCO after receiving the FAC report.

“We will take an integrated call on it after considering the FAC report. It’s a complex issue and all the facts are being considered. We have to review forest, coastal and environment clearance with respect to the project,” said Ramesh.

POSCO requires about 4,004 acres, mostly government land, for the project. Of the land earmarked, 2,900 acres is forest land.

Thousands of villagers have been protesting against the project, saying it will displace them from their homeland and ruin their betel leaf farms.

POSCO and the state government, however, maintain that the project will bring prosperity and employment to the impoverished region.

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