The environment ministry’s Forest Advisory Committee will on November 28 take a call on the action to be initiated against Jindal Steel and Power Limited for allegedly starting work on a project in Odisha before getting the mandatory forest approval.
The company had started developing a steel plant having an initial capacity of 6 million tonnes to be later doubled. Along with the steel plant, six units of 135-MW each were also supposed to be developed for which coal was to be locally sources. The project is expected to cost R5,000 crore
Soon after the project received environment clearance in 2007, it allegedly started civil construction work even though the clearance letter clearly stipulated that no work would begin in non-forest land until forest clearance is approved.
A similar condition has also been prescribed under the Forest Conservation Act rules, which disallow construction on non-forest land. The condition has been imposed to prevent the project owners claiming clearance after starting work citing huge investments as an alibi.
The ministry committee, constituted under the conservation act, recommended forest clearance in 2010 to the project but apparently over-looked the violation despite being pointed out by local non-government organisations.
Now on the directions of Odisha High Court, the ministry has directed the FAC to look into the alleged violation. The FAC will examine this aspect at its meeting on November 28.
The ministry in 2012 had instituted an inquiry into allegations of the power plant using ground water instead of water from Brahmani River for cooling purpose as recommended in the environment clearance.