The steel ministry is batting hard for Korean steel major Posco's Rs54,000-crore project in Orissa, which has been stalled for five years over environmental and land acquisition difficulties. At a press conference in New Delhi, top ministry officials said they would work to clear the latest environment ministry objections in a month's time.
About a week back, the union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) had stopped the state government from providing 2,959 acres of forest land citing violation of environment protection laws. ''The issue issue would get resolved soon, may be in a month's time,'' steel secretary Atul Chaturvedi said on Wednesday.
''The environment ministry has raised some issues. They will be resolved soon. We hope to take it up with the concerned ministry,'' union minister for steel Virbhadra Singh added.
Last week, a panel set up by the MoEF, headed by National Advisory Council member N C Saxena, found that the project site for the Posco plant was inhabited by some 'other traditional forest dwellers'.
Though the Forest Rights Act requires all tribal peoples to be rehabilitated (with their consent) before acquiring land for the project, the Orissa government deliberately withheld information regarding opposition of the locals for the land being acquired by the company and gave a green signal to the project against its own rules, Saxena said.
Posco, the world's third-largest steelmaker by output, had signed a memorandum of understanding with Orissa in June 2005 for a 12-million tonnes a year steel plant to be built in three phases by 2016.