Posco, industry welcome conditional nod to Orissa project

January 31st, 2011 - 9:14 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 31 (IANS) Welcoming the conditional clearance to its $12 billion steel project in Orissa, the Indian subsidiary of South Korean steel major Posco said Monday that it will resolve the concerns raised by the people living in the vicinity of the project. Industry bodies said the move will shore up India’s investment-friendly credentials.”We fully appreciate the concerns of different stakeholders on sustainability of environment as well as livelihood of affected people,” Posco-India said in a statement issued here.

The project, which is the biggest foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country, was stopped by the environment ministry after concerns were raised by environmentalists and local inhabitants.

Posco requires about 4,004 acres, mostly government land, for its project in Jagatsinghpur district, about 100 km from the state capital Bhubaneswar. Of the land earmarked, 2,900 acres is forest land.

Thousands of villagers have been opposing the project, saying it will displace them from their homelands and ruin their betel leaf farms.

The environment ministry Monday gave its approval to the project, provided the company fulfilled a host of requirements towards maintaining the ecological balance of the region.

According to Posco, it is committed to take sustainable green initiatives to conserve the fragile environment of the area, while creating sustainable livelihood opportunities for the locals.

“As a responsible corporate citizen of India, we will continue to work for the welfare of the local community and, plough back a part of earnings for CSR (corporate social responsibility) after the operations commence,” the statement added.

Industry body Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) also welcomed the move and said that a careful balance has to be maintained for protection of the environment and safeguarding the interests of the local inhabitants.

“In producing a careful balance between developmental goals and growth objectives, optimal level of environment protection, and concern for the human dimensions of change, we welcome the Posco clearance which will meet the multiple objectives,” FICCI’s secretary general Amit Mitra said.

FICCI said that it hoped that the conditions in approval for the project are viable for long term sustainability.

Meanwhile, another industry lobby Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) said the decision to approve the project would help build the country’s image to attract foreign investment.

“CII is hopeful that this decision would pave the way for future greenfield projects and capacity additions within a reasonable time frame,” CII’s director general Chandrajit Banerjee said.

The $12 billion investment is intended for an integrated steel, mining and port project. The investment would also be directed towards a captive power plant to provide electricity to the steel plant.

Separate clearance had to be given to all three projects within the integrated steel plant by the environment ministry.

The ministry has imposed 28 additional conditions as part of the environmental clearance for the steel-cum-captive power plant and 32 conditions are imposed while according environmental clearance to the captive minor port in the state.

On the issue of transfer of land for the project, the ministry has asked the state government to provide a comprehensive package to forest dwellers in the area.

“Undoubtedly, projects like Posco have considerable economic, technological and strategic significance for the country but at the same time, laws on environment and forests must be implemented,” said Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.

The environment ministry had put the project on hold, citing violations of environment and forest laws by the company.

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