Posco to grow two million trees at Orissa plant site


Bhubaneswar : South Korean steel major Posco has offered to grow two million trees at the site of its proposed steel plant in Orissa to compensate for the loss of green cover, officials said Tuesday.

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The company plans to build its $12-billion steel plant in the coastal district of Jagatsinghpur. For this, 279,066 trees will need to be uprooted, district forest officials said in a report.

The company, however, maintains that the loss of the forest cover is minimal in qualitative terms and that they would grow more trees to compensate for the loss.

“We have offered to grow two million trees in our project site area – almost seven times the existing number of trees. Besides, we will create more forest cover elsewhere in Orissa,” Avinash Tiwari, deputy general manager of Posco-India, told IANS.

The company, while seeking environmental clearance for the steel plant, has committed that 25 percent of the project’s land area will be utilised for green coverage.

“Posco has the experience credentials for doing so. In Gwangyang Steel works in (South) Korea, the company has planted 1.9 million trees inside the steelworks site,” Tiwari said.

The company has agreed to provide for the compulsory afforestation as per the forest diversion proposal approved by the Supreme Court, which has appointed a high-level committee to oversee the implementation.

“The committee would be definitely be taking stock before the construction activities begin on the site,” Tiwari added.

Posco, the world’s fourth largest steel maker, signed a deal with the Orissa government in June 2005 to build a steel plant by 2016.

However, over 20,000 people from around 15 nearby villages have opposed the project, saying it would take away their homes and livelihood.

Posco says the plant would affect only 500 families but would create thousands of jobs. The project has not made any progress because of the protest by villagers.