Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Feb 28:
Posco India’s failure to clear the dues towards the net present value (NPV) of trees to be cut for its mega steel plant to be set up near Paradip is all set to delay the transfer of land acquired for the project.
The matter is now in the Odisha government’s court after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) left the decision on it.
The state government has asked the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Rajnagar (Mangrove) Forest Division to furnish the latest report on the realization of NPV from Posco.
“The latest report on realization of NPV pertaining to diversion of forest land in respect of Integrated Steel Plant and captive minor port by Posco India Pvt Ltd may be furnished to this department. The latest demand notice placed by you in this context with IDCO/Posco India may also be sent,” said a letter written by D Biswal, additional secretary to forest department, to the Rajnagar DFO recently.
Government sources said that the permission for tree felling can be granted only after the NPV realization, which is necessary under the existing laws.
“The state government has already handed over 546 acre of land to Posco and the rest 1,554 acres is ready to be handed over to the company once the outstanding dues are cleared,” a senior official said.
According to sources, dues of about Rs 19 crore are pending against the company. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has also asked the state government to take immediate steps to recover the amount before land diversion.
It is to be noted that the department has issued notices to several companies including SAIL, MCL and OMC for defaulting in depositing NPV for their mining projects.
The Jagatsinghpur district administration has already acquired 2700 acres of land, required for the first phase work of the project comprising 8 million tonne steel capacity.
A Posco India source said, the company had deposited Rs 105 crore towards NPV with the state government in November, 2008 as per the demand raised then prior to the grant of forest diversion permission.
Out of total 4004 acres required for the Posco’s original plan of 12 million tonne capacity, nearly 3000 acres were categorised as forest land. The project requires felling of about three lakh trees, mostly comprising casuarina plantations and fruit bearing trees.
It is to be noted that the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has accorded environmental clearance for a four million tonne per annum (MTPA) integrated iron and steel plant with captive power plant (4×100 MW) as against Posco’s original plan of setting up a 12 MTPA steel plant.