Bhubaneswar, Oct 4 :
The Union ministry of Environment and Forests has, in a strongly worded letter, asked the Odisha government to furnish a comprehensive report indicating the reasons and circumstances under which the Bhushan Steel and Strips Ltd (BSSL )was allowed to set up its plant in the state in violation of the green laws of the land and even before the final approval was granted to the company.
The ministry has, in its recent letter, asked the 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, a reliable source in the state forest department said.
The ministry has also asked the state government to submit the name and designation of persons responsible for allowing the company to undertake work for construction of the steel plant even before the final approval was accorded it.
According to the source, although the ministry had asked the state government on Dec 11, 2006, to furnish a detailed report on the Bhushan project, the state government did not respond to it even once in the last seven years.
The 2006 letter from the Union ministry had informed the Odisha government that it had kept in abeyance the approval granted for the diversion of 61.48 hectares of revenue forest in Dhenkanal and Angul districts earmarked for the integrated steel plant by BSSL.
In its recent letter, the ministry has expressed surprise that the state authorities allowed the company to utilise the forest land even though the final approval for the land’s diversion for industrial use had been kept in abeyance.
“Why the approval accorded under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, shall not be permanently withdrawn and the user agency be directed to restore the forest land back to its original status after its full reclamation?”, the ministry in its letter.
While the senior state government officials remained tight-lipped, executives of the Bhushan Steel and Strips Limited refused to comment on the matter.
It is widely believed that Bhushan Steel has the backing of some leaders of the ruling Biju Janata Dal as well as senior bureaucrats and that explains why the company has been spared the rod even though it has violated the industrial, labour and green laws with impunity over the years.