March 23, 2023
JUST IN: The National Green Tribunal (Eastern Zone) has suspended the environmental clearance granted to JSW steel for two proposed projects in Odisha for having serious flaws. The projects have been a site of conflict and people’s resistance for over a decade.
The environmental clearance (EC) which was granted to JSW steel was for two interconnected projects in Dhinkia, Odisha - an integrated steel plant & and a jetty project - costing over Rs. 65,000 crore.
The JSW projects have been a site of long-standing controversy. They came up after a project by POSCO in the same location fell through in 2017 following years of protest by the local communities against the degradation of their environment, and loss of their livelihoods.
The land was being used for betel leaf plantations by residents & was a vital source of their livelihood. They had sought to protect it from acquisition. In January 2022, >30 villagers were lathi charged by the police for protesting land acquisition for the JSW project.
Previously, following the community’s struggle against the POSCO plant, three committees had been set up by the government to ensure implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 in the area.
But the rights of the residents remain unrecognised still.
Despite these ongoing controversies, JSW managed to secure EC in April 2022. Even before the EC was granted, the Jindal Pratirodh Sangram Samiti had claimed that the Odisha govt had gone ahead without the clearance to “cut trees, destroy plantations and acquire land”.
The EC was challenged by activist @PrafullaSamant4 primarily on the ground that the appraisal conducted by the expert appraisal committee was erroneous & the projects environmentally detrimental.
The EIA notification requires both social impact assessment (SIA) and cumulative impact assessment (CIA) to be done before public consultation.
But the NGT found that the CIA “saw the light of day only after the public hearing” - and so did the SIA.
The expert appraisal committee in its recommendations had failed to consider the pre-existing scarcity of drinking water in Paradip - a polluted industrial area and the adverse comments previously made by the NGT on a similar project by POSCO.
Further, in NGT's opinion, JSW’s proposed jetty was within 500m of the Paradip Port, rendering it unnecessary.
Citing these deficiencies & procedural violations, the NGT has suspended the EC and remitted the matter to the @moefcc for a fresh appraisal and final decision.
Read more about the JSW project and the resulting conflict on the @LandConflicts database here: