South Africa's Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs said in a statement earlier this week that the permission had been granted after in depth investigations carried out on the environmental impact.
The steel plant is planned to set up in the Alton North light industrial area of Richards Bay, situated about 150 km north of Durban.
The Department had been called in, to conduct the investigation following objections by environmental groups that the steel plant would contribute to further polluting the Richards Bay region.
The Richards Bay Clean Association and other environmental groups had objected the Tata Steel project on the grounds that no environmental assessment impact had been carried out.
The environmental groups maintain that the permission granted to Tata Steel would only pave the way for other heavy steel industries to move to the light industrial area.
The announcement will be a much needed breather for the Indian steel major, as the project has been plagued by delays since its announcement about four years ago. Tata Steel had initially planned a joint venture with the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa and expected the project to be completed by 2005, but later decided to go solo.
Interestingly, the project was originally planned for Australia, but was later shifted to South Africa following favourable power tariffs offered by the African authorities.
Tata Steel, along with Mittal Steel has invested heavily in South Africa. Mittal Steel had earlier taken control of the South Africa-state company, Iscor. Mittal Steel has also taken over plants in Newcastle in the KwaZulu-Natal area as well as the ones in the Johannesburg region.