"Stealing" Orissa's prospects

Friday 31 March 1995

-- Will the ministry of environment and forests (MEF) never let Orissa prosper? Biju Patnaik has been claiming so for years now. Adding more grist to his mill, the MEF has recently put the spanner in the latest of Orissa's prestigious steel projects. The Rs 480 crore plant was to be set up by Mideast Integrated Steel Ltd., at Daitari in the Jajpur district.

The MEF has objected to the company going public without procuring the necessary environmental clearance. It has also asked the company to suspend the construction of the unit until Mideast furnishes proof that adequate safeguards against atmospheric and ground pollution have been taken.

Orissa is incensed because it has been touting this as its second most important steel plant after Bokaro. Chief minister Biju Patnaik sees this as a confirmation of the "union government's biased attitude against the interests of Orissa". In fact, Patnaik's party, the Janata Dal has already announced that it is going to make the delay in the steel plant project an important election issue.

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