Posco's long-delayed plans to build a 12m tonnes/year steelworks in eastern India's Orissa state face yet another setback after the majority of a four-member government panel on Monday ecommended that environment clearances sanctioned for the project be immediately revoked.
The panel â€“ known as the Posco Enquiry Committee â€“ was established by the Indian ministry of environment & forests (MoEF) to investigate issues related to land acquisition for the project. On 5 August, the MoEF directed the Orissa state government to stop all work on the project over concerns that it might be violating forest laws, as Steel Business Briefing reported.
Following investigations, the enquiry committee concluded that the project's environmental impact assessment (EIA) process contained 'many serious lapses and illegalities', the ministry says. The panel noted, for instance, that Posco was granted MoEF clearances for only the first 4m t/y phase of the project. However, the Orissa government was acquiring land to accommodate the full 12m t/y of capacity.
Three of the four panel members asked that all project clearances hitherto granted to Posco by the MoEF be immediately revoked. The fourth recommended that another comprehensive EIA be undertaken so that additional conditions, if required, may be imposed on the project before start of construction.
These findings will now be reviewed at a meeting of the MoEF's forest advisory committee scheduled for 25 October, SBB understands. 'We are waiting for the final decision of India's environment ministry,' Posco officials in India and Seoul tell SBB.