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Posco can’t cut trees till Odisha gives forest clearance: NGT

‘It is now between them (Posco) and the state,’ a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said after noting that the project has been granted environment clearance (EC) and as per the Forest (Conservation) Act permission to cut trees is to be given by Odisha government.

‘Environmental clearance has already been granted to them. State government has to pass order for forest clearance. It is for the state government to pass an order. It is between them (Posco) and the state.’

‘We dispose of the petition. The project proponent (Posco) is at liberty to approach the state government for appropriate orders. Till such orders are passed by the state government, no trees be cut by the project proponent,’ the bench said.

The order came on the plea of one Prafulla Samantara who had challenged the FC granted to the project, in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha, on the ground that the Centre only had power to give approval for FC and the final order in that regard has to be passed by the state government. The tribunal, while disposing of his petition, concurred with his view saying that as per provisions of the Forest Act, it is the state government which is required to pass an order permitting non-forest activities in forest area, once such activity has received approval of the Centre.

‘Once Central government accords its approval, it is to be followed by appropriate orders by the state government..,’ the bench said.

The tribunal, however, made it clear that it is not examining any other aspect of the case like whether the FC is to be granted prior to EC or vice versa.

The counsel for the Odisha government informed NGT during the brief hearing that that it will pass appropriate orders.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had recently granted EC to Posco’s steel project in the state, but it is yet to give the go ahead for the company’s captive minor port project there. On 28 May, 2013, the NGT had ordered status quo to be maintained regarding cutting of trees at the project site. Posco was granted environment clearance for its project in 2007. On 30 March, 2012, the EC granted to Posco’s steel project had been suspended by the green tribunal which had directed the MoEF to review the clearance afresh. After reviewing the same, the clearance for the steel plant was recommended for revalidation till 2017 by the Expert Appraisal Committee in May 2013, but the EC was granted in January 2014.

NMDC set to pay Govt 35% higher dividend this fiscal

New Delhi:
Buoyed by a better performance, state-owned iron ore miner NMDC is likely to fork out Rs 3,110 crore dividend this fiscal, 35 per cent more than in 2012-13.

Both production and sales of the country's largest iron ore miner were higher during the April-December period of the 2013-14 fiscal, and the upward trend is expected to continue as the fourth quarter is considered to be the best one by the iron ore industry.

Production and sales were higher by about 3 per cent during the 9-month period at 20.17 million tonnes (MT) and 21.25 MT respectively.

‘Our performance has been spectacular in the third quarter and the overall performance for the 9-month period is also better than the same period of the last year. So, naturally, dividend pay-out would be higher this year,’ NMDC's Finance Director S Thiagrajan said.

He did not quantify the amount of dividend that the firm was going to pay this year saying, ‘this is a call of the company's Board and it will decide on it’.

However, sources said it would be about Rs 3,110 crore. NMDC's production during the October-December quarter was up by 37 per cent to 7.3 MT while despatches registered 40 per cent increase to 7.4 MT.The company had paid Rs 2,299 crore dividend in 2012-13; Rs 1,606 crore in the previous fiscal and Rs 1,177.58 crore in 2010-11.

NMDC had earlier indicated that the PSU would end up the current fiscal with production between 27-28 MT. The company has a total production capacity of 32 MTPA at its mines in Chhattisgarh and Karnataka. It targets to achieve 40 million tons capacity by 2014-15.

The higher dividend by NMDC and other PSUs will help the government meet the fiscal
deficit target of 4.8 per cent of the GDP.
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