NGT Suspends Environmental Clearance For JSW’s Rs 65,000 Cr Mega Steel Project In Odisha

Bhubaneswar: In what is seen as a jolt to JSW, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has suspended the environmental clearance granted for the Rs 65,000 crore mega steep project project of the group in Odisha.

A four-member Division Bench of the NGT headed by Chairperson Adrarsh Kumar Goel ordered the suspension of the environment clearance for three months before the Expert Appraisal Committee of the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change takes a fresh call on the project.

The NGT issued the order while hearing am an appeal by rights activist Prafulla Samantara challenging the validity of EC accorded to the project proposed near Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district, sources said.

It was contended that the Expert Appraisal Committee is procedurally as well as substantively erroneous and detrimental to the environment inter alia for the reason that water will be drawn from the river which is the source of water supply to inhabitants.

Besides adding more pollution in the area, this would lead to reduction of the forest cover and affect flora and fauna in the eco-sensitive area. An identical project was also earlier proposed by POSCO Company which did not proceed due to objections.

“We are conscious that the project involves huge investment. At the same time, principle of sustainable development cannot be ignored. Apart from significant issue of public hearing, important issue of location of the project close to polluted area, jetty being unnecessarily close to an established port, huge water being taken from the river which may affect drinking water needs and flow of the river and important issues which need express consideration,” the tribunal said.

It said permissibility of sourcing water from Mahanadi when drinking water is scarce has not been duly evaluated. The matter will need fresh appraisal by the EAC by reasoned consideration and fresh decision by MoEF&CC, the NGT said.

The tribunal allowed these appeals and remitted the matter to the MoEF&CC for fresh appraisal and decision in the light of the above observations which may take place within three months. Till such decision, ECs will remain suspended and all pending IAs will also stand disposed of, it said.

While senior officials of JSW were not immediately available for comments on the NGT order, sources said the suspension of the suspension of the EC may be a temporary setback and such happenings are part of any mega project.

It may be noted here that the JSG group submitted a fresh proposal at the Make In Odisha Conclave held last year to expand the crude steel production capacity to 24 MTPA with a cumulative investment over Rs 1,00,000 crore.

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