Environment ministry team visits Posco site

Bhubaneswar: A four-member expert team of ministry of environment and forest(MoEF) visited the proposed Posco steel plant site near Paradip to study its alleged adverse impact on the coastal environment.

The visit of the committee, which is headed by K Ray Paul, is significant as the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had suspended the environmental clerance for the project in March this year. The NGT also wanted a fresh assessemnt on the impact of the project.

"We have come here not to take the views of the people. We will see condition of the land, local geography and type of land where the steel plant project is coming up," Paul told reporters after visiting some villages like Nuagaon and Noliasahi in the proposed plant site area where the tree felling and greenery were studied.

The NGT had suspended the environmental clerance to the Rs 52,000 crore project after two persons from the state filed a petition alleging that it would cause a devastating impact on the coastal belt of the state as a large number of trees were being cut down to give it place.

The state government had stopped land acquisition after NGT suspended the environmental clearance, official sources adding 2000 acres of the required 4,004 acres had already been acquired by it.

The MoEF in January 2011 had accorded conditional environmental clearance to the project after which the state government along with the South Korean steel major started land acquisition for the project. .

Meanwhile, state`s new steel and mines minister Rajanikant Singh on Tuesday said he would review the progress of the project on August 25.

The expert team did not visit the controversial Dhinkia and Gobindpur area which comprises the remaining 2,000 acres of the proposed mega steel plant project, the anti-Posco brigade said they would draw NGT`s attention again.

"We will inform NGT that the fresh assessment made by the expert team excluded Dhinkia and Gobindpur gram panchayat," Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti president Abhay Sahoo told PTI.

NGT had in its order maintained that MoEF accorded permission to the steel maker to go ahead with its 12 MTPA plant based on an environment impact assessment report which was produced on the basis of 4 MTPA capacity plant.

The green court had also directed the MoEF to assess it for the full capacity right from the beginning.