Secure clearance from Orissa govt to cut trees at project site, NGT tells Posco

Written by feBureau | Updated: Jan 25 2014, 09:45am hrs
South Korean steel maker Posco will now have to knock at the doors of the Orissa government for a final forest clearance, failing which the company will not be allowed to undertake tree cutting in order to proceed with the development of its R51,000-crore steel project in the state.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday asked the steel major to secure the forest clearance (FC) from the state government and directed it to restrain from felling any trees till the time an appropriate order is passed by the state government.

Recently, Posco had received the clearance from the environment ministry, ending an eight-year wait for the project to get-off. The clearance had paved the way for Posco to build the steel plant.

The tribunal's order on Friday came on the plea of one Prafulla Samantara who had challenged the FC granted to the project, in Jagatsinghpur district of Orissa, on the ground that the Centre only had power to give approval for FC and the final order in that regard has to be passed by the state government.

The tribunal, while disposing of his petition, concurred with his view saying that as per provisions of the Forest Act, it is the state government which is required to pass an order permitting non-forest activities in forest area, once such activity has received approval of the Centre.

The tribunal, however, made it clear that it will not examine any aspect of the case on whether the FC is to be granted prior to EC or vice versa.

On May 28 last year the NGT had ordered status quo to be maintained regarding cutting of trees at the project site. However, on March 30, 2012, the EC granted to Posco's steel project had been suspended by the green tribunal which had directed the MoEF to review the clearance afresh.