In a 3:1 split opinion, an Environment Ministry panel has disagreed on whether or not to scrap all environment and forest clearances for South Korean giant Posco’s Rs. 51,000-crore integrated steel project in Orissa.
While the forest panel will consider the split report on October 25 and the coastal and environment clearance divisions will also examine it, Union Minister of Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh will take a final call on the project’s fate after discussions with the State government as well.
Recommending that all clearances be revoked, the three independent experts on the committee slammed the Ministry for approving the project in the first place — an indirect attack on the chairperson of the panel, who was the top bureaucrat in the Ministry when those clearances were originally granted.
The chairperson of the panel, the former Environment Secretary, Meena Gupta, submitted a dissenting report. She felt that the clearances could continue, even while a comprehensive and integrated Environmental Impact Assessment was carried out for both the steel plant and its captive port, so that additional conditions could be imposed before construction started.
The other three members of the committee — tribal affairs expert Urmila Pingle, the former director- general of forests, Devendra Pandey, and Madras High Court advocate V. Suresh