Posco asks Cabinet Secy to help renew green clearancehttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/posco-asks-cabinet-secy-to-help-renew-green-clearance/

Posco asks Cabinet Secy to help renew green clearance

Wants clearance in time for President Park to take part in ground-breaking function during her visit.

South Korean steel company Pohang Steel Company (Posco) has sought Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth’s intervention in renewing the green clearance for its project in Orissa. The firm has said that South Korean President Park Geun-Hye is keen to participate in the ground-breaking ceremony of the Rs 53,000 crore project during her visit next month but,without the clearance,it would not be possible.

The environment clearance (EC) was granted to the company in 2007 for five years.

Posco holds the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) responsible for the huge delay in its project,billed to be the single biggest FDI,which is to come up in Orissa’s Jagatsinghpur district. The steel giant had inked a MoU with Orissa in June 2005 but the project has ever since been dogged by delayed green clearances.

In its letter to Seth on December 2,the company said after enormous efforts,it has been able to execute compensation and rehabilitation of those living in its project site. It has been handed over 1,704 acres of land by the Naveen Patnaik government earlier this year while another 1,000 acres are to be handed over shortly. But this would be of no avail if the MoEF does not renew the clearance. “Despite the fact that the expert appraisal committee of the MoEF,after reviewing the company’s request for re-validation of EC and perusing the report of an expert committee recommended renewing the EC for Posco on May 16,the MoEF has not done so,” Posco told the Cabinet Secretary.

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In the absence of re-validated clearance,the company is unable to undertake any preparation or construction which will result in the project site getting encroached again.

“The project is virtually stalled. We have repeatedly tried to approach and request the MoEF but it has not yielded any results so far. The President of South Korea is keen to participate in the ground-breaking function of our project during her visit in India in January 2014. But in this situation it seems difficult. We request you to intervene in getting the EC renewed so that the project is back on track,” Posco told Seth.

A top Posco official told The Indian Express that the company would proceed ahead with only 8 MT per annum project against 12 MT envisaged earlier as the necessary land and required clearances are taking time.

“Gradually,we may scale up the capacity to 12 MT in future but as of now the it seems we can proceed ahead with 8 MT,” he said.

Posco had also written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Principal Secretary Pulok Chatterji on September 3 imploring him to intervene in restoring the EC. Separately,Posco told the steel ministry on September 29 that re-validation of the EC was necessitated as the EC granted in July 2007 was only for five years. But owing to tardy progress in land acquisition by Orissa,the EC lapsed and the firm applied for its renewal in May 24,2012.

“After a delay of eight years,when Posco-India is all prepared to commence the project,we are unable to progress for want of EC re-validation,which is pending with the MoEF. The steel ministry being the parent ministry should take up the matter with the MoEF. In the present situation of economic slowdown,the Posco project would contributed significantly to economic growth besides ending positive signals to the investors,” Posco wrote.

Posco was also been hit hard in May this year when the National Green Tribunal (NGT) stopped felling of trees in the steelmaker’s project site,arguing that a decision on its EC should be taken first. This has put the Orissa government in a tight spot. The state has said it can hand over the 1,000 acres of land to the company after NGT vacates its stay.

The steel firm’s project has witnessed see-sawing fortunes ever since its MoU. It had to contend with teething land acquisition issues and a long wait for green clearances.

Power play

Posco has sought Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth’s intervention to renew the green clearance granted to its Orissa project in July,2007 for five years

The South Korean company had also written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Principal

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Secretary Pulok Chatterji on September 3 imploring him to intervene in restoring the clearance