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Environment nod to lift cost of POSCO's India plant to $12.6 billion

Published by MAC on 2014-01-14
Source: Reuters

Environment nod to lift cost of POSCO's India plant to $12.6 billion


9 January 2014

NEW DELHI - Environment ministry has given its go-ahead to POSCO's planned steel plant in the country, but has asked it to spend on "social commitments", a company spokesman said, raising the project's cost by $600 million to $12.6 billion.

The revalidation of the South Korean firm's lapsed environmental clearance comes days before the country's president, Park Geun-hye, visits India for four days starting Jan. 15.

The proposed 12 million-tonnes-per-year plant in eastern Odisha state has been stuck for more than eight years due to delays in getting various clearances and acquiring land.

The company is hopeful Park's visit will speed up the project - India's biggest foreign direct investment.

"Though an additional burden has been put on us, we are happy with the revalidation" POSCO-India spokesman IG Lee told Reuters on Thursday. "It means the removal of a hurdle for us."

The company will have to spend 5 percent of the total investment on "enterprise social commitments", Lee said, adding it was not immediately clear what that would entail. The ministry could not be contacted outside regular business hours.

POSCO could also hear some good news on its request for a licence to explore iron ore. Odisha will reply within a "day or two" to the federal mines ministry on granting an iron ore exploration licence to POSCO, the state's mines director Deepak Kumar Mohanty told Reuters.

Reuters reported in July that the mines ministry was in favour of giving a licence to POSCO, which plans to use locally mined iron ore for the steel plant.

POSCO first signed an agreement with Odisha in June 2005 to set up the steel plant on 4,004 acres of land.

It has already been allotted about 2,700 acres to begin the project's first stage, which involves setting up two 4-million-tonne plants in two phases. But much of the work can begin only after a nod from India's environmental court, which in May put on hold felling of trees for the project.

The first phase of the plant may be commissioned sometime in 2018, POSCO officials have said.

Fishermen oppose Posco's captive port

The fishermen have vowed to step up stir if NGT gives the green nod for Posco's captive port

Business Standard

14 January 2014

Thousands of fishermen dependent on the Jatadhari river mouth for their livelihood have opposed the captive port proposed by Posco India at that location.

The aggrieved fishermen have sought the intervention of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), pointing out that the NGT should not give clearance to the steel maker to build a port at Jatadhari.

Nearly 50,000 fishermen of Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara districts depend on the Barunei, Mahanadi and Jatadhari river mouths for fishing to eke out their living. These fishermen are members of Kalinga Karndhar Kaibartya Solabhai Sabha (KKKSS)."Thousands of fishermen are living in a critical condition due to low fish catch at Barunei and Mahanadi river mouths. The situation will worsen if NGT allows Posco to build its captive port at Jatadhari river mouth. The fishermen communities would be deprived of their livelihood and will be forced to migrate to other states to work as bonded labourers", said Pitamber Tarai, spokesperson of KKKSS.

The fishermen have vowed to step up stir if NGT gives the green nod for Posco's captive port.The environment activists have raised concerns on the possible impact of the port on marine life, especially Olive Ridley turtles. Meanwhile, the disgruntled youths of Gadakujang and Nuagaon panchayats kicked off a signature campaign in different Posco affected villages to expose the truth behind the indefinite stir called by the pro-Posco leaders.

Miffed with the activities of the pro-Posco leaders, hundreds of youths led by former panchayat samiti member Saumendra Nayak accused the leaders of misleading the affected villages to serve their own interests.

"The intention of the pro-Posco leaders of Nuagaon and Gadkujang is not clear. These leaders are intensifying the stir for their own interest to get contract work from Posco by organizing the affected people. They have duped the innocent villagers including women to sit on dharna to fulfill their demands but this agitation is only to mislead the affected villagers", Nayak said. Nayak is monitoring the boundary wall construction of the Posco project on behalf of S S Constructions.

The youths have planned to collect the signatures of nearly 1500 people of Nuagaon and Gadakujang panchayats and submit the same to the Jagatsinhgpur administration.

Despite the stir, the boundary wall construction continued smoothly at Nuagaon. Construction work at Polang under Gadakujang panchayat is expected to resume in 2-3 days.

Jeevanlal Behera, head of Gadakujang panchayat said that the contractors and some agents of Posco are attempting to foil the agitation but their efforts will not be successful.On Wednesday, activists of Posco Pratirodha Sangram Samiti (PPSS), the anti-Posco outfit, have planned to hold a rally at Dhinkia against the project and burn effigies of Union Minister for environment and forest Veerappa Moily and South Korean President Park Geun-Hye.

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