New Delhi: There has been a setback for India's single largest FDI investment, the showcase Posco Steel plant to be set up in Odisha. The National Green Tribunal has suspended the environment clearance given to Posco Steel. The clearance was given a year ago by the then environment minister Jairam Ramesh.
The National Green Tribunal noted, "Environment clearance stands quashed, fresh terms of reference must be issued." The Green Tribunal alleged that departmental bias was shown in clearing project pointing out that Meena Gupta, the officer appointed was from Odisha.
"The Environment Impact Assessment report does not take into account the fact that majority of the members who were appointed by Jairam Ramesh had rejected the environment clearance," the Tribunal added.
The Tribunal also noted that the environment impact assessment was only for 4 million tonnes per annum, whereas the actual capacity of the project as declared by Posco is 12 million tonnes per annum.
Posco will now have to go back to the Environment Ministry and stand in line for a licence all over again.
This setback came even after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had backed the project while speaking at Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul on Monday. "The government is keen to move forward with the Posco project and there is some progress in this regard. I believe that India is a stable and profitable long-term investment opportunity," the Prime Minister had said.
Posco had signed a MoU on June 22, 2005 with the Odisha government for setting up an integrated steel plant with the total capacity of 12 million tonnes per annum. But the project had been mired in controversy because of local protests and faulty environment impact assessment report.