Speculation rife on Posco

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Bhubaneswar: With speculations doing rounds that Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is all set to accord eco clearance to Posco’s steel project sans the captive port project, the South Korean steel maker has put up frantic efforts lately to get a fair deal.

In a written communiqué to MoEF, Posco-India has urged the ministry to consider the steel unit and the port project as one unit as it is a port-based project. Any alteration in project plan or partial clearance would sabotage the investment proposals.

Besides, Posco has objected to MoEF’s recommendation that the company should submit a “detail time-bound” schedule for spending at least 5 per cent of its total project cost or about Rs 3,000 crore towards welfare activities in the project area.

Although Posco has earmarked funds for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities, no ground work could be initiated despite over five years to signing of MoU with the state government, the letter said.

After Minister of Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh, in a statement, mentioned that the fate of Posco project would be decided by January end, nerves are running high in different circles.

“The Posco project is linked to three issues namely—mining, steel and port. We would have to take an integrated view following which we would be in a position to comment on the future of Posco. We hope to come up with the decision by the third week of this month,” Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh had said earlier.

The highest ever FDI in the country was marred in controversy after MoEF asked the state government to stop all work in the project area in August last year citing green violations.

As per highly placed sources at MoEF, the ministry is likely to reject environmental clearance to the proposed captive port at Jatadhari. The eco concerns such as—eroding Jatadhari river mouth, possible increase in pollution level due to setting up of the port and threat to mass nesting of turtles are the major reasons which pose a hurdle to eco clearance to the port project.

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