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Final Nod To Orissa For Posco Project

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Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Monday granted final approval to Orissa for diversion of 1,253 hectares of forest land for Posco's steel project but said the South Korean steel major should not export raw material from the proposed project.

"...In view of the state government's latest communication of April 29, final approval is accorded to the state government for diversion of 1253 hectares of forest land in favour of Posco," the Minister said in a statement here.

Ramesh, who gave the clearance to the company in January on certain conditions including ensuring of tribal rights and compensatory afforestation, said, "Posco would also bear the cost of regeneration of an equivalent amount of open, degraded land in a district to be determined and indicated by the state Government.

Ramesh also said that the South Korean steelmaker should not export raw materials, including iron ore, from the proposed project.

"I would expect that (agreement) between the state and Posco would be negotiated in such a manner that exports of the raw material are completely avoided," Ramesh said in a statement.

POSCO signed the agreement for the Orissa mill in 2005 and it was scheduled to begin production by the end of 2011. Protests, environmental worries and litigation over a related mining concession have delayed the project.

Ramesh gave it clearance in January on certain conditions, including ensuring that tribal rights and forest protection laws are observed.