In what could spell more trouble for South Korean major Posco, an environment ministry committee has decided to review approval given to a port for its steel plant in Orissa. A ministry panel concluded that an environment impact assessment (EIA) of the all components of the project — steel plant, captive power plant, port and infrastructure — is needed.
The ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) at its next meeting on November 30 will consider a review of the environmental and coastal regulation zone approval given to the Posco’s captive port at Jatadharmohan creek.
The committee will examine whether a new port for Posco’s steel plant, just 12 km away from Paradip port, which as per environment ministry’s pollution index is “severely polluted” can be allowed. The pollution aspect was not considered while giving environment clearance to the port in 2007 as it was prepared only this year.
Tata is also setting up a port at Damra about 80 km from Posco’s proposed port. Environmental groups had been opposing the setting up of the port.
The state government has vehemently opposed re-evaluation of the site in light of the new pollution index.
The EAC has said assessment is required for a township proposal that is not part of Posco project. “The EAC concluded that the comprehensive EIA prepared ...require in-depth study,” the minutes of EAC meeting held on November 9 and 10, said.
Posco had conducted an EIA and submitted it to the Orissa government in October 2010 but the latter told the panel it has not received it. “The company representative stated they had furnished a copy of the report to the Orissa government and were at the loss to understand how the representatives attending the meeting were not in possession of it,” the minutes said.
With such pending queries that the state government has to respond to, the EAC may take some time before finalising clearance for the project.