The environment ministry on Monday widened the ambit of a fact-finding committee on alleged violations in land acquisition for R54,000-crore Posco's steel plant in Orissa. This comes a week after Chief Minister Navin Patnaik expressed confidence that the plant will get environmental clearance.
The ministry had asked the Meena Gupta committee to investigate the status of the implementation of a several regulations including compliance with environment impact assessment, coastal regulation zone and other clearances granted by the environment ministry.
The committee, which has been asked to submit its report by September-end, has also been asked to "review compliance with pari passu conditionalities" for all clearances obtained for the project.
The committee had visited the project site at Jagatsinghpur district last week and met state government officials. It has to submit a report on implementation of the in-principle approval given to the project in 2008.
The committee was required to examine whether provisions of Forest Rights Act (FRA) and Relief and Rehabilitation policy of the state.
There had been complaints that rights of traditional forest dwellers as defined in the Forest Rights Act have not been taken into account. The ministry had issued a stop order on land acquisition on August 5 based on a report by N.C. Saxena panel on FRA implementation, The panel said the FRA process had still not even gone beyond the initial stages. "It was incorrect on the part of the administration to claim there had been no other Traditional Forest Dwellers in possession of forest land for three generations," the panel said.
Orissa government had said there were no traditional forest dwellers in the area and tribals' rights have been identified as per FRA provisions.