By Nageshwar Patnaik in Bhubaneswar, June 2, 2018: The Odisha government will very shortly file an amended forest diversion proposal for 3,000 acres of forest land near Paradip with the Ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) to facilitate setting up a mega steel project proposed by JSW Steel.

The MoEFCC had earlier approved diversion of forest land for the 12 million ton per annum mega steel project by South Korean multinational Posco, which did not see the light of the day due to opposition from local and other issues.

Having failed to go ahead with the proposed steel project, Posco surrendered the land where the Sajjan Jindal-led JSW Steel now plans to install its 12 million ton steel plant at the same location, the state government is once again required to file the proposal afresh, officials said.

The state government has cleared allotment of 2,900 acres of land to JSW Steel for its 12 million ton project for which consultancy firm Mecon Ltd had assessed the land requirement. Idco had previously acquired 2,700 acres for the Posco project. But this time officials are confident of transferring land to JSW Steel without hitch very shortly.

However, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) spokesperson, Prashant Paikaray did not rule out agitation to oppose what he called illegal move by the district administration to erect a boundary wall encircling land initially acquired for the Posco project. In fact, the construction of the boundary wall has been put under suspension after the villagers complained about the violation of the law, he added.

“There are some 420 criminal cases against the villagers. More than 2500 individuals have been targeted by police and after facing trials, 800 people have been cleared of the false cases. We will keep on opposing any forcible acquisition of land which falls under FRA,” Paikaray said.

A case is pending with the New Delhi bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), opposing the boundary wall construction and settlement of forest rights.

Officials concede discrepancies and after reconciling them, the state government proposes to file the amended forest diversion plan for the site. “For JSW Steel, the land has already been approved and can be transferred after some procedural formalities”, they said.

JSW Steel proposes to invest about Rs 550 billion to set up 12 million ton crude steel plant along with 900 Mw captive power plant, 32 million tonne pellet unit and a slurry pipeline to transport iron ore concentrates from Joda to the project site proposed near Paradip.

The steel major has already constituted a wholly-owned subsidiary – JSW Utkal Steel Ltd. to fasttrack the plant and other inter-linked projects in the state. However, the progress of the plant construction will largely depend on the next move by PPSS, sources said.

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Rajesh Kumar Sharma

Whether the same will be possible in the hands of JSW ? which POSCO could not achieve. That will be a great success for JSW Steel towards its expansion plans