In a major jolt to JSW, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) suspended the environmental clearance for two interconnected projects – an integrated steel plant (with cement and power plants) and a jetty project near Paradip Port worth Rs 65,000 crore.
A four-member Division Bench of the NGT headed by Chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel ordered the suspension of the environmental clearance. The suspension will last for three months before the Expert Appraisal committee of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change takes a fresh call on the project.
The NGT issued the suspension based on an appeal by Prafulla Samantara, a rights activist. It was observed that the Expert Appraisal Committee is procedurally as well as substantively erroneous and detrimental to the environment inter alia for the reason that water will be sourced from the river which is the source of water supply to the inhabitants.
Apart from adding pollution to the already polluted area, this would result in reducing the forest cover and affect flora and fauna in the eco-sensitive area. An identical project was also earlier proposed by POSCO Company which did not proceed due to objections.
The suspension letter read, “We are conscious that the project involves huge investment. At the same time, principle of sustainable development cannot be ignored. Apart from significant issue of public hearing, important issue of location of the project close to polluted area, jetty being unnecessarily close to an established port, huge water being taken from the river which may affect drinking water needs and flow of the river and important issues which need express consideration.”
“Matter will need fresh appraisal by the EAC by reasoned consideration and fresh decision by MoEF&CC,” the NGT letter read.
"Accordingly, we allow these appeals and remit the matter to the MoEF&CC for fresh appraisal and decision by MoEF&CC in the light of the above observations which may take place within three months. Till such decision, ECs will remain suspended and all pending IAs will also stand disposed of,” the letter stated.
“I’m very happy that the NGT has heard our pleas. Further steps will be taken after three months before the Expert Appraisal committee of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change takes a fresh call on the project,” said rights activist Samantara.
Meanwhile, the authorities of JSW could not be contacted over the NGT order.
(Reported by Ramakant Nayak, OTV)