No violation of SC order in Vedant plant: Minister

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Bhubaneswar, Mar 12 (UNI) Orissa Steel and Mines Minister Pradip Kumar Amat today refuted the Opposition's allegations that the Vedant Aluminium Limited (VAL) was running its refinery plant at Lanjigarha in Kalahandi district, violating the Supreme Court order.

Replying to the admissibility of an Adjournment Motion moved by the Opposition and Calling Attention Motion by the Treasury Bench, Mr Amat said the Supreme Court, while adjudicating a writ petition filed by the VAL, had ruled that no forest land could be utilised for the project without complying with the conditions laid down by it.

The apex court, he further said, had not prevented the operation of the refinery.

Mr Amat said out of 1,805 acres of land required by the company, clearance was needed for only 58 acres of reserve forest land. The company had moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Union Ministry of Forests and Environment for its early clearance. The plant, however, had been set up excluding the forest land.

The minister said the apex court was not against the project and had directed to provide a rehabilitation package and some conditions to protect nature and subserve development.

The court in its November 23, 2007 order said if the Sterlite Industries India Limited (SIIL), state government and Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) jointly agreed to the rehabilitation package, the court ''may consider granting of clearance to the project.'' Mr Amat said the SIIL had already filed applications on December 14, 2007 in the Supreme Court accepting the package and the conditions fixed by the court. The case was subjudice before the Supreme Court and orders were awaited.

The minister said while only Rs 44 lakh was spent for wildlife conservation during the past five years, Rs 50 crore had been earmarked for the purpose in the project. Similarly, the state government had spent Rs 1.5 crore for tribal development during the last 19 years and a provision of Rs 12.20 crore was made for the purpose for this project.

He said the project was essential for the socio-economic and educational development of the tribals.

Congress deputy leader Narashingh Mishra alleged that the credibility of the VAL was doubtful. The Supreme Court, he said, had dismissed the VAL application but the government had permitted the company to run the plant. He stated that the court had not permitted the company to run the plant.

His party colleague Nalini Mohanty wanted to know how much the government would lose if the bauxite mining was done by the Vedant.

The Opposition, however, staged a noisy walkout expressing their displeasure over the reply of the minister. Deputy Speaker Prahald Dora, however, rejected the Adjournment Motion.

UNI BD DP DPM SP HT1852

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