Posco port project faces green axe

Jagatsinghpur: The fate of Posco’s proposed captive port at Jatadhari now rests with the observations of Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) constituted by Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).

As per highly placed sources at MoEF, the EAC of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) has strongly recommended not to grant permission to captive port in view of fragile ecosystem.

The panel reviewing the comprehensive environment impact assessment report submitted by the South Korean steel giant indicates insufficient information furnished by the latter.

The other factors which poses obstacle to environmental clearance are:

•    The proposed port site comes under high erosion zone.
•    Around half of the Jatadhari river mouth has eroded.
•    The environment impact assessment report submitted by Posco does not have detailed information on port’s impact on marine life.
•    The proposed captive port site poses threat to mass nesting of turtles.

Based on EAC and FAC recommendations, Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh would take a final decision on eco clearance to the projects. Earlier, Ramesh had stated that the decision on Posco projects would be taken by third week of January.

“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 said.

It may be recalled that the split reports submitted by Meena Gupta Committee were of the view that the proposed port near Paradip port would pollute the area. However, the two reports did not recommend scrapping the port project.

Buzz has it that the ministry has accorded eco clearance to the proposed USD 12-billion steel project in Jagatsinghpur district. The proposed steel mill which seeks diversion of forest land for setting up of the mega plant came under scanner following alleged green law violations.

The ministry had slapped ‘stop work’ notice along with restriction on land acquisition in the first week of August last year. Following N C Saxena committee report, MoEF asked the state government to cease work at the site.

The Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the ministry had recommended rejection of forest clearance to the project, citing infringement of the Forest Rights Act by the state government at the site.

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