Government panel nixes Vedanta’s Orissa project (Lead)August 16th, 2010 - 8:47 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Aug 16 (IANS) Vedanta Resources’ bauxite mining project in Orissa’s Niyamgiri hills will not be allowed unless the local tribal communities give their consent and village councils agree to the use of forest land for the project, a government panel said Monday.
The panel, investigating violations of the Forest Rights Act and environmental norms by the company in Kalahandi district, said that allowing mining in the area would shake the faith of the tribal people.
“The committee is of the firm view that allowing mining in the proposed mining lease (PML) area by depriving two primitive tribal groups — Kutia and Dongaria Kondh — of their rights over the proposed mining site in order to benefit a private company (Vedanta) would shake the faith of tribal people in the laws of the land,” said the four-member panel, headed by National Advisory Council Member N.C. Saxena.
The committee said that since Vedanta has repeatedly violated the law, allowing it further access to the proposed mining area at the cost of the rights of the tribes will have serious consequences for the security and well-being of the entire country.
The tribals, who hold the hills sacred, have been opposing the project and due to the controversy, some of the investors of Vedanta have even withdrawn their shares.
The environment ministry will now have to take a call on the fate of the project.
The committee said that the company is illegally occupying 26.123 hectares of forest land and its claim of following the state government orders is completely false.
“This is an act of total contempt for the law on the part of the company and shows an appalling degree of collusion on the part of the concerned officials,” it said.
The committee concluded that the Orissa government is not likely to implement the Forest Rights Act in a fair and impartial manner as far as the PML area is concerned.
“Since it has gone to the extent of forwarding false certificates and may do so again in future, the environment ministry would be well advised not to accept the contentions of the Orissa government without independent verification,” it said.
According to the committee, mining in the area will not only be illegal but will also endanger the self-sufficient forest-based livelihoods of primitive tribal groups.
Besides, construction of roads in the area will make it accessible to wildlife poachers and timber smugglers, threatening the rich biodiversity of the hills.
Highlighting the violation of the Environment (Protection) Act by Vedanta, the report said: “The company has already proceeded with construction activity for its expansion project that would increase its capacity six fold without obtaining environmental clearance as per provisions of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006 under the EPA.”
“This expansion, its extensive scale and advanced nature, is in complete violation of the EPA and is an expression of the contempt with which this company treats the laws of the land,” it added.
Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh Saturday said the government would not tolerate any violation of the Forest Act by any corporate and would decide the future of the Vedanta project after the panel submitted its report.
Britain-based Vedanta Alumina, part of the Anil Agarwal-promoted Vedanta Resources Plc, has built an alumina refinery at an investment of $800 million at the foot of the hills, where production has already started.
The firm, which is currently sourcing bauxite from other states at market rates, said mining permission in the hills was essential for it to reduce the cost of production.
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- Orissa moves SC against denial of green nod to Vedanta mining project - Apr 01, 2011
- Environment Ministry rejects Vedanta mining project in Orissa - Aug 24, 2010
- Environment ministry to give decision on Vedanta mining project - Aug 24, 2010
- Orissa CM meets PM, seeks assurance on Vedanta, Posco projects - Aug 23, 2010
- Orissa seeking legal opinion on Vedanta project - Oct 28, 2010
- Patnaik meets PM, seeks clearance to Posco, Vedanta - Aug 23, 2010
- Tribals happy after government rejects Vedanta Group's plans for mining in Orissa - Aug 25, 2010
- Supreme Court asks for fresh petition on Orissa mining issue - Apr 01, 2011
- Vedanta companies tumble at bourses after mining ban - Aug 24, 2010
- Vedanta taps Gujarat for bauxite for Orissa refinery - Sep 02, 2010
- BJP demands Patnaik's resignation over Vedanta issue - Aug 25, 2010
- Highlights of panel report on Vedanta - Aug 24, 2010
- Vedanta replies to ministry's showcause notices - Sep 15, 2010
Tags: advisory council member, collusion, committee concluded that, contempt, forest land, government orders, government panel, hectares, impartial manner, kutia, member panel, mining area, mining project, national advisory council, orissa government, tribal communities, tribal groups, tribals, vedanta resources, village councils