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Mar 30, 2012 at 07:17pm IST

Odisha: Green panel says no to Posco plant

New Delhi: Yet another setback for South Korean multinational Posco's plans to build a steel plant in Odisha. The National Green Tribunal on Friday has suspended the environment clearance given to Posco a year ago by then Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.

Ramesh had appointed a special four-member committee and had given the environment clearance even though only one member Meena Gupta had voted in favour of the project.

The bench questioned how Jairam Ramesh gave clearance to the project based just on Meena Guptas report - it showed a clear "departmental bias" as she was from Orissa. The court also observed that the project should generate its own source of water instead of utilising the drinking water meant for the Cuttack city in Orissa.

The EIA report was for only four million tones per annum whereas the actual capacity of the project in the MOU is 12 million tones per annum.

Posco will now have to apply again for environment clearance and this time round it is Jayanthi Natarajan who will take a decision.

Natarajan said, "My mandate is to protect the environment of the country. I will have to look at the order and then decide."

The decision by the Green tribunal will also be a huge embarrassment for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who on a recent visit to South Korea had assured his counterpart of progress on the project.

Even local people on the ground have protested against the project and refused to allow any land to be acquired. Now with a fresh round of green clearances needed, it is a long road ahead for Posco.

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