Rejecting Orissa government's assurance that there are no tribals in Posco
project area, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Thursday put on hold forest clearance to the Rs 52,000 crore steel-cum-captive power plant.
Ramesh cited the letter from members of Posco Pratirodh Sangharsh Committee (PPSC) who claim to be other traditional forest dwellers in the area allocated for the project.
The letter talks about village council resolutions of Dhinkia and Gobindapur that have not been considered by the concerned state government authority.
Ramesh noted that the Orissa government had categorically denied the authenticity of the documentation submitted by the PPSC.
"I do believe that these two resolutions have to be disposed of by the appropriate authority in accordance with the Forest Rights Act, 2006...," he said, adding that he had already forwarded the PPSC representation to the Orissa Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary.
"After receiving information from the state government that the appropriate authority has completed the process of recognition and verification procedure for all the villages from where the forest land is to be transferred for non-forestry purposes, a final decision regarding forest clearance will be taken," Ramesh said.
"Ignoring these two Palli Sabha (village council) resolutions and not allowing them to be subjected to a due process of law as enshrined in the Forest Rights Act, 2006 would be tantamount, in my considered opinion, to violating the very essence of this legislation passed unanimously and with acclaim by Parliament," the minister said.