BHUBANESWAR: An expert panel has favouredthe renewal of environment clearance for Posco’sproposed steel project in Jagatsinghpur, officials said on Thursday.

This comes over a month after the Supreme Court left the decision to the Centre on giving the South Korean steelmaker preferential access to the Khandadhar iron ore deposits in Sundargarh district. With the state government having acquired substantial portion of the 2,700 acre required to begin work for the initial phase of the country’s biggest FDI project, the expert panel’s nod could be seen as a shot-in-the-arm for Posco.

Officials said the expert appraisal committee (EAC), at its meeting last month, gave the green light to the ministry of environment and forests for renewing the environment approval granted to Posco’s project in July, 2007. The original approval was for five years. The EAC examined stipulated conditions, including the K Roy Paul committee’s recommendations, while permitting revalidation of the environmental approval, sources added.

Environment clearance would help the company overcome the stay order put by the National Green Tribunal in May not to fell trees for acquiring land for the proposed 12 billion US dollar steel plant.