Posco’s fate to be decided tomorrow

Posco’s fate to be decided tomorrow

New Delhi: The fate of Posco’s Orissa steel plant will be decided on Monday by a central forestary panel after examining the split report by an assessment committee headed by former environment secretary Meena Gupta.

However, it will be environment minister Jairam Ramesh who will take a final call on the issue.

The four member Posco panel had delivered a split report with three members -- Urmila Pingle, Devendra Pandey and V Suresh -- pointing out serious lapses and illegalities in the environment impact assessment (EIA) process.

Seeking cancellation of the project, they said that the EIA prepared for the Posco project was a rapid one, based on one season data without taking into account all the components of the project like township project, water project, rail road and transport facilities.

However, Gupta was of the opinion that the Posco can be asked to conducting EIA again after which the project can be re-examined.

The fate of the Posco has been hanging fire since 5 August when the environment ministry halted the construction work and land acquisition at the proposed site in Jagatsinghpur in Orissa citing violation of green norms.

The Forest Advisory Committee will have a difficult job considering the divergent report.

“Moreover, the outcome will also have impact on bilateral talks when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visits Seoul (South Korea) in November. The issue is likely to figure during bilateral talks between the two nations," sources said.

The Meena Gupta panel submitted its report to Ramesh on 18 October.

It is the second panel on the Posco project from the environment ministry, earlier one being headed by NAC member NC Saxena which had pointed to violations of Forest Rights Act and the ministry had heeded its recommendations to immediately put a halt to the project, including land acquisition at the site.

Orissa government has strongly denied that there was any violation on the part of it or the Posco during execution of the work and land acquisition.