In 3 weeks, Moily clears 70 pending projects | india | Hindustan Times
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In 3 weeks, Moily clears 70 pending projects

In a bid to get industry on the UPA’s side before 2014 general elections, environment minister Veerappa Moily has cleared Posco’s steel plant in Odisha as part of his project clearing spree – which even includes some in critical wildlife areas.

india Updated: Jan 14, 2014 09:42 IST
Chetan Chauhan

In a bid to get industry on the UPA’s side before 2014 general elections, environment minister Veerappa Moily has cleared Posco’s steel plant in Odisha as part of his project clearing spree – which even includes some in critical wildlife areas. The Vedanta aluminum project in Odisha’s Niyamgiri, on the other hand, got thumbs down after the locals rejected the proposal in the country’s first environmental referendum.

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi had opposed Vedanta project, saying he would ensure that the voice of people was heard. Moily went by the view of the locals and accepted the Forest Advisory Committee’s recommendation.

In case of Posco, Moily delinked the $13 billion steel plant and its port and gave approval only to the plant with a condition that 5% of the project cost would be spent on social welfare. The company said it would mean an additional investment of $600 million.

The Posco project had got environment clearance in July 2007, which was scrapped by the National Green Tribunal in 2012. In June 2013, the ministry’s expert appraisal committee had given a go ahead for the approval of the project.

Moily said the approval was granted a week ago. The decision comes days before South Korean president Park Geun-hye is to begin a four-day visit to India on January 15.

The minister had given clearance to around a dozen projects, including a couple of hydel projects in ecologically fragile north eastern India since he was given additional charge even as the ministry sought comments on a new regulation to improve verification and monitoring regime for projects seeking forest clearance.

The regulation provides for satellite mapping of forest areas to detect encroachments and violation of approvals, self and state government monitoring mechanism and a process to initiate action against defaulters.