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More assurances sought for land to Posco

Our Bureau

New Delhi, Jan. 31

Posco will have to wait for some time before it gets the land required for construction of the steel plant.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests has tightened the requirement for Posco to get environmental clearance for the forestland it requires for its project. Of the project's total land requirement of 1,620.49 hectares, 1,253 hectares is forestland.

According to the Forest Rights Act, 2006, non-tribals must fulfil three conditions before their claim as ‘other traditional forest dwellers' (OTFDs) can be recognised. These are:

A person must have resided in the forest for 75 years prior to December 13, 2005,

The person's bona fide livelihood needs should be dependent on the forest or forestland, and

The person should have been in occupation of the forestland before December 13, 2005.

However, the Ministry wants assurance from the Orissa Government that there are no claimants who fulfil even one of the conditions required to recognise OTFD rights.

Last October, Orissa's Forest and Environment Department communicated to the Environment Ministry that no claims were received under the definition of OTFDs. But the Environment Ministry has now asked for a fresh assurance before giving final approval for the diversion of the forestland.

“Final approval for diversion of 1,253 hectares of forestland for the Posco project would be granted as soon as this assurance of the State Government is received by the Ministry of Environment and Forests,” said the Minister, Mr Jairam Ramesh, in his order.

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