Centre stops work at POSCO site

Committee reports violation of tribal and forest rights
Centre stops work at POSCO site

THE Union environment ministry has written to Orissa's principal secretary (forests) directing the state to stop work on the Korean steel giant POSCO's plant in Jagatsinghpur district.

The August 5 letter comes after the joint committee of the Central environment and tribal affairs ministries submitted a report on Forest Rights Act (FRA) violations.

The FRA committee, which visited the project site from July 22 to 26 said there are traditional forest dwellers in the area contrary to what the district administration has been claiming. It added that recognition of rights under FRA had not been completed. The committee also pointed out the state has not forwarded to the Union ministry the resolution by palli sabhas (village committees) not to consent to diversion of forestland.

The Union environment ministry has asked the state government to provide details of all work completed up to now; it also sought information on forest and non-forest land handed over to POSCO India.

In an earlier order that came from the Orissa High Court the steelmaker was denied mining lease of the Khandadhar iron ore reserve in Sundergarh district. POSCO was the state government's preferential choice for Khandadhar's mining lease in its recommendation to the Central government. The court rejected the recommendation on July 14 in response to a writ petition.

The petition filed by a mining company, Geomin Minerals and Marketing, urged the state government to consider afresh the 200 mining lease applications it received and finalise the matter in the next six months. Geomin claimed in the writ petition filed in 2009, it was the first to apply for the mining lease—in October 1991. The state government stood by its decision citing POSCO's FDI (foreign direct investment), scientific method of mining and eco-friendly technology.

Reported by DTE team

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