In what could further delay South Korean giant Posco’s plan to set up a $ 12-billion steel plant in Orissa, a green panel today decided to defer decision on its fate citing absence of sufficient details on the likely environment impact of its captive port in the region.

Sources told PTI that the Environment Ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) at a meeting asked Posco to give additional information on the captive port near its proposed 12 million tonnes per annum plant in Jagathsinghpur in Orissa that is also awaiting green nod.

The EAC is likely to take up the issue in January next year after all the information is submitted.

Sources further said that the EAC was apprehensive of a number of ports coming up in the region and felt that there was a need to study the environmental impact on marine life due to them.

The Posco’s captive port was planned in 2005 and since then a lot of development had taken place around the coastal region.

Environmental and CRZ clearance for the construction of the proposed minor port was issued by the ministry in May 2007, sources said, adding the coast is facing erosion threat.

The panel has now sought an integrated comprehensive EIA including plant site, power plant, township and captive port.

“A cumulative impact of all the activities should also be considered. An EIA study in isolation for each component does not reflect the overall scenario. Hence more details are required,” sources said of the observations at the meeting.

The Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the Ministry has already recommended rejection of forest clearance to the project, citing infringement of the Forest Rights Act by the Orissa government at the site.

Besides Posco port, Adani, Astrang, Kirtania and Chudamani ports are proposed to come up in the region which NGOs like Greenpeace have opposed strongly, claiming that they will destroy the 25 km site of mass nesting beaches of turtles in Gahirmatha, Devi and Rushikulya.

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