The Anti-Posco activists have cheered the order of the National Green Tribunal suspending conditional environmental clearance granted for the Posco project. They have demanded immediate scrapping of the Rs 52,000 crore project in the aftermath of the verdict.
They also called for lifting of suspension order on the sarpanch of Dhinkia panchayat, the epicenter of anti-Posco agitation in the project area. Dhinkia sarpanch and secretary of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), Sisir Mohapatra was suspended from his post by the Jagatsinghpur district collector for misleading the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) with regard to the palli sabha resolutions against acquisition of forest land for the proposed steel mill.
“We have been critical of the then Union environment and forest minister Jairam Ramesh and Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for selling the livelihood of 4,000 people, and the laws of the land, to the highest bidder. The real truth has come after the intervention of the green tribunal. We demand complete scrapping of this project,” said assistant secretary, PPSS Prakash Jena.
Welcoming the verdict of the green tribunal, PPSS secretary, Mohapatra said, “I do not aspire to be sarpanch again, but I am determined to intensify stir against Posco project as a member of PPSS.”
The PPSS activists had been agitating against the project even after the final order of MoEF, granting conditional environmental clearance to it on January 31 last year. Owing to stiff protests, land acquisition process for the mega steel project could not take off in the Dhinkia area.
On the other hand, leaders of United Action Committee, a pro Posco outfit-Tamil Pradhan and Nirvay Samantray, remarked about the uncertainty of Posco project after the tribunal's order, saying Posco's fate suffered due to lack of coordination between Centre and the state governments. In its order, the green tribunal said the environment clearance given to Posco project would remain suspended till the environment ministry reviews it afresh. The tribunal pointed out that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Orissa government and Posco states that the project is for production of 12 million tonnes of steel per annum (mtpa) but the environment impact assessment (EIA) report has been prepared only for four mtpa steel production in the first phase.