The South Korean giant will now have to apply for a fresh environmental clearance
The National Green Tribunal has suspended the environmental clearance granted to the controversial POSCO steel project in Odisha's Jagatsinghpur district. The project was cleared by the Union environment ministry in January last year. This was challenged by Prafulla Samantray, an activist from Bhoinagar in Odisha, in the tribunal.
The tribunal in its order on March 30 noted that the environmental clearance to the project was given through a faulty process. It pulled up the ministry for appointing officials who had biases towards the project to conduct the clearance process. The South Korean giant will now have to apply for a fresh environmental clearance. The tribunal also asked the ministry to issue fresh terms of references for an environment impact assessment (EIA) of the project.
The project was first given an environmental clearance in 2007 on the basis of a rapid EIA. But the project was re-appraised in 2010-11 by the environment ministry following complaints from activists. A committee appointed by the ministry to inquire into the clearances had pointed out inadequacies in the earlier clearances. The tribunal noted that the then environment minister had cleared the project despite majority of the members of the committee recommending the ministry reject the clearance.