The National Green Tribunal (NGT) suspended the environmental clearance granted to the proposed Rs 65,000 crore worth big-ticket steel project by JSW Group in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district.
The apex green panel adjudicating a petition filed by rights activist Prafulla Samantara challenging the validity of the EC granted to the project passed the order directing the suspension of the environment clearance for three months. The panel asked the Expert Appraisal Committee of the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (by MoEF&CC) to conduct a fresh appraisal of the matter.
“Matter will need fresh appraisal by the EAC by reasoned consideration and fresh decision by MoEF&CC. Accordingly; we allow these appeals and remit the matter to the MoEF&CC for fresh appraisal and decision by MoEF&CC in the light of above observations which may take place within three months. Till such decision, ECs will remain suspended,” a four-member division bench of the NGT ordered.
The appraisal, conducted by 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 sourced from the river which is source of water supply to the inhabitants, apart from adding pollution to the already polluted area, result in reducing forest cover and affect flora and fauna in eco sensitive area. Identical project was earlier proposed by POSCO Company which did not proceed due to objections, the petition maintained.
“We are conscious that the project involves huge investment. At the same time, the 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 are important issues which need express consideration”, the division bench of NGT observed while pronouncing the order.