Jan 31: India “approves” POSCO Steel Plant

January 31, 2011


India’s environment ministry has given conditional approval to South Korean company Posco’s plan to build a steel plant in the eastern state of Orissa.

The ministry has also cleared the plant’s captive port and power plant if certain conditions are met.

The $12bn plant is India’s largest foreign investment project.

Last year, a government panel said that environmental clearances for the plant be scrapped. Critics say the project will exhaust iron deposits in 20 years.

India earlier rejected plans by mining giant Vedanta to extract bauxite in Orissa saying it would damage the local environment.

Monday’s approval spells out 28 “extra conditions” for the steel plant and 32 conditions for the port.

They include the company spending a share of profits on corporate social responsibility, ensuring green cover at the plant site, and restrictions on construction of the port in sensitive coastal areas.

“Projects such as that of Posco have considerable economic, technological and strategic significance for the country,” the environment ministry said in a statement.

“At the same time, laws on environment and forests must be implemented seriously.”


Earlier, the environment ministry set up a panel to investigate if Posco’s project had been complying with the country’s green law, including rehabilitating and resettling local people displaced by it.

Three of the panel’s four members had recommended that environmental clearances for the project be cancelled, saying there were flaws in the manner in which it was being implemented.

The project was conceived in 2005 and is India’s single biggest foreign investment.

Based in the port city of Paradip, it is expected to create nearly 50,000 jobs.

But it has been opposed by many groups who argue that Posco will exhaust Orissa’s iron ore resources in two decades while creating lasting environmental damage.