The National Green Tribunal has barred Korean steel giant Posco from cutting any tree on the land to be acquired in Odisha for its integrated plant until the State government hands over a formal forest clearance to the project under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980.

The NGT was hearing a petition filed by activists demanding that the company not cut trees as the State government had failed to give a forest clearance for months. The State had so far argued that it was not required to give one, and the in-principle nod from the Union Environment and Forests Ministry sufficed.

The tribunal had earlier put a stay on felling of trees, which it said would continue till the State gave the clearance. The court said: “We dispose of the petition. The project proponent [Posco] is at liberty to approach the State government for appropriate orders. Till such orders are passed by the State, no trees be cut by the project proponent.”