The Jairam Ramesh-led union ministry of environment and forests today granted conditional clearance for South Korean steel maker Posco's $12-billion steel mill project in Orissa. The project was put on hold by the ministry last year.
The clearance comes five years after Posco announced it would set up a 12 million tons a year steel plant in the mineral-rich eastern province of Orissa, in what could become the country's single largest foreign investment to date.
The ministry, while granting conditional clearance for steel-cum-captive-power plant and a captive minor port, however sought the Orissa government's categorical assurance that those claiming to be dependent on or cultivating the land in the Posco project area do not belong to the other traditional forest dwellers (OTFD) category under the Forest Rights Act, 2006.
''The environmental clearance for captive port is being accorded with 32 additional conditions over and above stipulated in the original environmental clearance of 15 May 2007,'' the order signed by Ramesh said.
In August last year, the union environment ministry had directed the Orissa government to stop land acquisition for Posco because it violates the Forest Rights Act. The step was taken on the basis of a ground report submitted by a three-member committee set up by the environment and tribal affairs ministries.
The state government and Pohang Steel Co (Posco) signed a memorandum of understanding on 22 June 2005 for setting up an integrated steel plant of a total capacity of 12 million tonnes per annum at Paradeep in Jagatsinghpur district.