Posco responsible for delay in EC to its steel plant: MoEF

New Delhi: Clearance for Posco's integrated steel plant in Odisha has been held up as the South Korean company is yet to provide certain information regarding its captive minor port project in the state, the Environment and Forests ministry has told the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

The contention was, however, opposed by Posco India Pvt Ltd which told the bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar that environment clearances (EC) for both the projects were granted separately in the past and claimed it has provided all information, except mapping data.

Posco claimed the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) in its meeting held in May had recommended revalidation, till 2017, of the EC for its four million tonne per annum (mtpa) steel plant, but the clearance has been held up by the ministry without any reason.

According to the MoEF, both the projects are linked and before granting clearance to the steel plant it needs to take a collective and holistic view which has not been possible as the information regarding the captive minor port has not been provided till date.

It also said because of this reason the EC has not been put up before the EAC and so clearances for both the projects are held up and Posco is responsible for the delay.

The NGT after hearing both the sides has now fixed August 29 to hear arguments by senior advocate Raj Panjwani, on behalf of petitioner Prafulla Samantra, regarding the forest clearance granted to Posco's project.

The tribunal, meanwhile, has directed Posco to furnish all the information sought by MoEF at the earliest and asked the ministry to proceed with the matter expeditiously once it receives the documents.

Environmentalist Samantra has opposed felling of trees in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha where Posco's project is coming up. Posco was granted environment clearance for its two projects in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha in 2007.

The MoEF, after reviewing the same, had granted EC with additional conditions on January 31, 2011 which had prompted the petitioner to move the tribunal.

On March 30, last year, the EC granted to Posco's steel project had been suspended by the green tribunal which had directed the MoEF to review the clearance afresh.

After reviewing the same, the EC for the steel plant was recommended for revalidation till 2017 by the EAC in May.