Posco verdict not setback to govt green policies

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal order suspending environmental clearance to Posco is not a setback to government`s green policies, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan said today, asserting that "very strict and transparent" procedure was followed while giving the nod.

Maintaining that the Environment Ministry has been "totally dedicated" to protecting the environment, she said that her Ministry will examine in detail the order on the USD 12-billion project, the single largest foreign direct investment in India.

"No…no…not at all," the Minister told reporters outside Parliament House when asked whether it is a set back to the procedures followed by the Environment Ministry in granting clearance in January 2011 to the South Korean major to set up a mega steel project in Odisha.

Natarajan said her predecessor Jairam Ramesh, who granted the clearance to the steel major, had followed "very strict and very very transparent procedure and systems which have been put in place" before taking the decision in favour of Posco for producing 12 million tonnes of steel per annum (MTPA).

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) today ruled that environment clearance granted to Posco`s mega steel project will remain suspended till the environment ministry reviews it afresh. "I have to go into it (order) in detail and study the judgement and decide what further steps have to be taken…some issues have been pointed out by NGT. Certainly, we will take a look at it," she said.

The Minister said her "mandate" is to protect the environment and ensure that transparency is maintained in awarding clearance to the projects. Asked whether the development is a setback as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had recently assured South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on the implementation of the project, she said, "I don`t think two things are connected."

During his recent visit to South Korea, Singh had assured its President Lee Myung-bak that the project will be implemented and there was progress on it.