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Acres of green to make up for loss

Paradip, Feb. 21: The stategovernment, being armed with stage-II forest diversion clearance from the Centre for the 12-million tonne Posco steel project, is giving final shape to afforestation on the periphery of the project.

A nursery spread across 38 acres has come up at Nadiakhai village near Nolia Sahi. Afforestation to make up for the loss of greenery following felling of trees will be undertaken, said Jagatsinghpur collector Satya Kumar Mallick.

During the land acquisition drive, 1.90 lakh trees were pulled down from the project area as part of forest clearance and deforestation exercise. Equal number of trees will be taken up under a plantation drive in the region of 8-km long boundary of the steel project.

The steel company deposited Rs 105 crore with the state government for the plantation activity. Rajnagar mangrove forest division and Odisha forest development corporation will jointly shoulder the responsibility of the plantation work with state-run industrial infrastructure development corporation extending logistic support.

Divisional officer of the Rajnagar mangrove forest Manoj Kumar Mahapatra said: “The plantation will cover the areas in 100-metre radius outside the earmarked project boundary. The places where there is ingress of tidal water will be covered mangrove regeneration. The rearing of plants at the nursery is in progress. The work is expected to resume shortly. Local people will be extensively engaged in plantation work to augment their income sources.”

Emphasis will also be laid community plantation with active involvement of the local residents. There are reports of ingress of tidal water into to specific pockets of Nolia Sahi following the forest clearance exercise. Effective measures to plug the tidal ingress will be taken up.

The Union ministry of environment and forests granted the stage-I environmental clearance to Posco India in October 2008. Mahapatra said the stage-II clearance was accorded to the project during December 2012.

The conditions for environmental clearance for the steel plant included among things maintenance of ambient air quality standards, carrying out a sustainability study of water requirements, green area within the plant to be 25 per cent of the total area, making risk and disaster management plans, and devoting 2 per cent of net annual profits to corporate social responsibility.