Orissa to 'study' MoEF order on Posco before acting

A day after union ministry of environment and forests refused to grant forest clearance for the Rs54,000- crore Posco steel project in Orissa, the state government said it would closely examine the MoEF order before taking any further action.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik today said environment minister Jairam Ramesh's letter to the state refusing to accept the state's contention that no forest rights were being violated by the project would be sent to forest department for verification.

"After forest department's scrutiny, we will respond to the MoEF," Patnaik told newspersons in Bhubaneshwar.

On Thursday, Ramesh had held back forest clearance, asking the state government to recognise the rights of the people of Dhinkia and Gobindpur villages in Jagatsinghpur district under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) (See: No 'go' for Posco yet as Ramesh rejects Orissa's assurance).

He relied on the resolutions passed by the palli sabhas of the two villages on 21 and 23 February rejecting the proposed diversion of forest land for the project. The project is coming up in eight villages spread over three gram panchayats in Jagatsinghpur district, and includes a captive power station and seaport.

The state government in its FRA compliance report to the Centre had claimed that not a single person residing in the area earmarked for Posco project can be categorised as other traditional forest dweller (OTFD) under provisions of the FRA. (See: Posco opponents slam Orissa government's claims on absence of tribals at project site)