Orissa to investigate alleged violations by Vedanta

November 29th, 2009 - 7:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Nov 29 (IANS) Orissa will look into charges that metals and mining major Vedanta had starting work on a mining project in the state in violation of a government guideline, a senior official said Sunday.
“I have asked the district administration to see if there has been any violation,” said state Steel and Mines Secretary Ashok Mohadeo Rao Dalwai.

“I am expecting a report by tomorrow (Monday),” Dalwai told IANS.

The move by the state government comes two days after the union environment ministry asked the Orissa government why the controversial bauxite mining project by the firm had been allowed to start work in violation of a ministry guideline.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh had Friday said a probe had found construction work had started on land that belonged to the revenue department, though the project had not yet been cleared by his ministry.

The minister said in a statement that his ministry would send an inspection team to verify allegations of violations of the terms.

However, Dalwai said the state government has not received any communication from the central government yet.

“We have not received any communication from the central government. I saw some news items appeared in the press. I have asked the local team to go and verify if it is true,” he said.

The project to mine bauxite at the Niyamgiri hills — sacred to the locals — has been vehemently opposed. It envisages mining in protected forest area too.

Vedanta Alumina, part of the Vedanta Resources (Sterlite) Group, has built an alumina refinery with an investment of $800 million in the area in Kalahandi district, 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 cost of production.

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