Environment panel report on Posco today

Environment panel report on Posco today

New Delhi: An Indian environment ministry panel is due to report Monday on the impact of a 12-billion-dollar steel plant to be built by South Korea’s Posco, an assessment that could scupper the project.

Steel giant Posco wants to build the plant in the eastern state of Orissa, in what would be India’s largest foreign investment since the country launched market reforms in 1991.

Three months ago, the ministry ordered Orissa state government to ensure work stopped at the site after a previous study highlighted alleged irregularities in implementing environmental laws.

The four-member panel led by former environment secretary Meena Gupta will issue its report on the company’s compliance with environment laws, along with rehabilitation and resettlement provisions given to local tribal people.

India’s rapid industrial development often comes up against environmental concerns and local tribesman as vast expanses of mineral wealth lie in parts of the country home to indigenous tribes.

Environment minister Jairam Ramesh in August struck down a bauxite mining project by British-based resource giant Vedanta, saying the company had shown “shocking" and “blatant" disregard for protected tribal groups.

Ramesh will make the official decision on the proposal after Monday’s report is submitted.

The state government of Orissa and Posco signed a deal in 2005 but construction stalled due to an ongoing dispute with villagers who are worried about losing their land and livelihoods.