'Green nod no licence for forceful acquisition' | delhi | Hindustan Times
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'Green nod no licence for forceful acquisition'

Under attack for clearing the Posco steel plant despite objections by the locals, environment minister Jairam Ramesh on Sunday said the clearance should not be used for forceful land acquisition. HT reports.

delhi Updated: Jun 13, 2011 01:16 IST
HT Correspondent

Under attack for clearing the Posco steel plant despite objections by the locals, environment minister Jairam Ramesh on Sunday said the clearance should not be used for forceful land acquisition.

Ramesh gave green clearance to India’s biggest FDI project in Orissa relying on a state report overruling majority view of own ministry’s report.

He even asked the state to initiate action against sarpanch of Dhinkia village, which is now spearheading the agitation.

The sarpanch, A Sahu, was accused of fraudently invoking the Forest Rights Act (FRA) for the land to be acquired on the basis of a state report.

“The project was given clearance after a great deal of thought to various factors,” Ramesh said in a statement.

His environment clearance has received huge criticism from activists in Orissa who termed it bucking under the pressure to clear the project.

“Since October 2010 the government had been trying to clear the project despite environment objections,” said Biswajit Mohanty, member of National Wildlife Board.

Ramesh said the state government should not use the approval as licence for forcile acquisition of land. “Dialogue and discussion, not coercion is essential to ecological security as it is to democracy,” he said.

Ramesh order on Posco prescribes livelihood and compensation as part of the forest clearance conditions, but it is silent on whether locals’s consent is a must for land acquisition.

Reacting to Ramesh’s statement, Campaign for Survival and Dignity said, “The minister, who today calls for democracy, declared that he will be bound neither by law nor democracy and gave away the land without taking the consent of the locals.”