Posted Saturday October 05, 2013
The union ministry of Environment and Forests has expressed surprise over the acts of the Odisha government authorities who allowed Bhushan Steel and Strips to utilise the forest land even though the final approval for the land’s diversion for industrial use was kept in abeyance. MoEF has asked Odisha government to furnish a comprehensive report indicating the reasons and circumstances under which the Bhushan Steel company was allowed to work even before the final approval was granted.
At a time when the UN human rights experts have severely criticised the Odisha government and South Korean steel major POSCO for seriously violating rights of people living in the area marked for the latter’s mega steel plant project in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district, the state government has received fresh slams from union environment and forests ministry of India for allowing Bhushan Steel and Strips to set up its plant in the state in violation of environmental norms.
“In a letter nearly seven years ago, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had informed the Odisha government that it had kept in abeyance the approval granted for diverting 61.48 hectares of revenue forest in the state’s Dhenkanal and Angul districts for setting up an integrated steel plant by Bhushan Steel and Strips,” said an agency report while quoting an unnamed source.
“Although the ministry on December 11, 2006, asked the state government to furnish a detailed report on the project, no such report has been filed or received yet,” the report added.
In a recent letter, as said in the agency report, the ministry has expressed surprise over the acts of the state authorities who allowed the firm to utilise the forest land even though the final approval for the land’s diversion for industrial use was kept in abeyance. MoEF has asked the state government to furnish a comprehensive report indicating the reasons and circumstances under which the company was allowed to work even before the final approval was granted.
The ministry, in its letter, has asked the Odisha government, “Why the approval accorded under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, shall not be permanently withdrawn and the user agency be directed to restore the forest land back to its original status after its full reclamation?”
The ministry has also asked the state government to submit the name and designation of people responsible for allowing the company to undertake work for construction of the steel plant even before the final approval was accorded.
It’s to be noted that the Odisha government under the leadership of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has received several allegations of undue favour to Bhushan Steel in different times before.
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