The Mint Report for 31 January 2011

The Mint Report for 31 January 2011

South Korean company Posco can finally go ahead with its huge Orissa project. On Monday, the environment ministry approved its planned $12 billion steel-making complex, which includes a power plant and a port. But it also added 60 new conditions for Posco to fulfill.

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Back in August, the environment ministry had told the Orissa government to stop acquiring land for the Posco steel plant. That move came after much criticism of the project. Protestors claimed it destroy the livelihoods of thousands of locals, dependent on the forestland being cleared. But the project has now been approved on an assurance from the Orissa government that those using the land are not traditional forest dwellers under the Forest Rights Act.

The green signal for Posco comes at a time when Jairam Ramesh’s environment ministry has cracked down on several large-scale industrial projects. On Monday, Ramesh said investments like Posco’s had economic, technological and strategic significance.

And in another development on Monday, the one-man committee appointed to look into 2G scam has turned in its report. Retired judge Shivraj Patil handed over his findings to telecom minister Kapil Sibal. Patil said the report had identified officials who failed to follow norms or violated them. His report examined the telecom procedures between 2001 and 2009—a period in which the NDA coalition was also in power. The findings in the report are divided into three parts, based on three telecom ministers at the helm during the period

India’s current telecom minister Kapil Sibal announced the appointment of Patil in December. The move was in reaction to the second generation spectrum scandal, in which spectrum was allegedly handed out to telecom firms at below-market prices.

In corporate, the Aditya Birla group is making a large acquisition abroad. It’s buying American firm Columbian Chemicals Company, or CCC, for $875 million. The acquisition will happen through the AB group’s companies Alexandria Carbon, Thai Carbon and SK Investment. CCC makes carbon black, which is used to make tyres. Monday’s announcement makes the AB Group the world’s biggest carbon black company.