Environment panel to examine ecological impact of Posco port

Environment panel to examine ecological impact of Posco port

New Delhi: A number of ports located at Jagathsinghpur in Orissa are likely to have a bearing on South Korean steel giant Posco’s plan to set up a captive port in the region with a green panel planning to examine their ecological impact in the coastal zone.

While deferring its decision on Posco’s project, the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the environment ministry noted at its recent meeting that the captive port was planned in 2005 and since then a lot of developments had taken place around the coastal region.

Environmental and CRZ clearance for the construction of the proposed minor port was issued by the ministry in May 2007, a senior environment ministry official said, adding the coast is facing erosion threat and a study has been sought by the state government to suggest remedial steps.

“Dhamra, Gopalpur and Paradeep ports have already been developed in the vicinity of the proposed project (at Jatadhar Muhan Creek, near Paradeep in Jagatsinghpur district)," the meeting noted.

It further said that Paradeep port is 12 kms from the proposed location and a long term impact analysis should be examined in this regard.

The Dhamra port project is being developed at Dhamara in Bhadrak district by Dhamara Port Company Limited (DPCL), a 50:50 joint venture between Tata Steel and L&T and is facing opposition from the green lobby for environment violation.

At the meeting, the EAC members noted that the clearance was issued on the basis of Rapid Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) based on one season data and the project proponent has prepared a comprehensive EIA in 2007 for which no Terms of Reference (ToR) was issued by the Ministry.

Deferring its decision till the next meeting on 30 November, the panel has sought an integrated comprehensive EIA including plant site, power plant, township, captive port etc.

“A cumulative impact of all the activities should also be considered. An EIA study in isolation for each component does not reflect the overall scenario," the meeting noted.

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

Besides Posco port, Adani, Astrang, Kirtania and Chudamani ports have been proposed to come up in the region which NGOs like Greenpeace have opposed strongly claiming that they will destroy the 25 km site of mass nesting beaches of turtles in Gahirmatha, Devi and Rushikulya.

Citing examples of the recent fuel oil leak from an Indian ship nearly two km off Orissa’s coast near Gopalpur port in April, and oil leakage from a vessel last September near Paradip port, Greenpeace said it is time the government woke up to the problem.