Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has ordered to initiate legal action against Ardent Steel Limited (ASL) for running a pellet plant without obtaining environmental clearance.
Accordingly, the forest and environment department of the Odisha government has initiated steps to file a case against the company.
Recently, it asked the Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) to provide details of clearance certificates for its unauthorised pellet plant before going ahead with the paper work.
“Before taking legal action, status of the unit as to grant of consent to establish and consent to operate are required,” said S B Samant, special secretary with the forest and environment department, in a letter to the OSPCB member secretary.
The MoEF stumbled upon the violation in obtaining statutory clearance while reviewing the application of the steel firm to expand its present capacity and add extra facilities to set up an integrated steel complex. The ASL has proposed to expand the pellet plant capacity to 2.1 million tonne per annum (mtpa) from 600,000 tonne a year. Besides, it has plans to set up an iron ore washery (3 mtpa), a sponge iron plant (1.2 mtpa), a steel melting shop (1.2 mtpa), a rolling mill (1.2 mtpa) along with 100 Mw captive power plant at Phuljhar village in Banspal block of Keonjhar.
However, while processing its application for expansion, the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the ministry found that it is running the 600,000 tonne pellet plant without obtaining environmental clearance, and hence suggested legal action against the company.
ASL authorities were not available for comments. A former employee of the company said, Ardent has already shut down its unit since December 2013.
Before its closure, the plant exported iron ore pellets via Paradip and other ports. It has no captive mines and used to produce the steel intermediary by sourcing iron ore from local miners. On its website, the company claims the pellet plant is meant only for sale in domestic and foreign markets.
Pellets are produced from dusty iron ore fines and are used as raw material for steel production. They can be used in place of sized iron ore in blast furnaces.
The ASL is a subsidiary company of Godawari Power & Ispat limited (GPIL), Raipur. GPIL has 75 per cent shareholding in the steel plant. GPIL is a HIRA group company.