POSCO asked to take consent of tribals for project in Orissa

NEW DELHI: South Korean steel giant Posco has been asked by the Environment
Ministry to take the consent of local tribals as required under the Forest Rights Act before commencing its proposed steel project in Orissa.

Posco had received clearance from the Ministry last month for acquiring forest land for setting up 12 million tonne integrated steel project and captive port in Orissa at a cost of Rs 54,000 crore.

Nearly 3,600 acres of land out of the required 4,004 acres fall under the government category, while the rest is under private control.

Construction of the project was originally scheduled to start in April 2008. The plant in the state's Jagatsingpur district, involving one of the biggest FDI, had to face problems of land acquisition and regulatory clearances.

Last year, the Supreme Court green bench had given clearance to the company for use of forest land.

"We have given nod for acquiring the land. But it is subject to the fulfilment of conditions including that of consent of tribal people as per the provisions of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006," a senior environment official said.

A letter to the Orissa Government has also been sent in this regard for implementation of the condition, he added.

The other conditions include financial aid and access to sea to the fishing community of Nolia Sahi while resettlement and rehabilitation of families (471 families in 8 villages) affected by the project as per the Supreme Court orders.

The legal status of the forest land shall remain unchanged, wherever possible and technically feasible, the user agency- Posco India Pvt Ltd will undertake afforestation, the forest land will not be used for any other purpose that specified in the proposal and no damage would be caused to the flora and fauna of the region, are some of other conditions enlisted by the ministry.