Sterlite Industries accused of unlawful deforestation in Chhattisgarh

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New Delhi, Dec 18 (ANI): A subsidiary of the Vedanta mining group in India has been accused of clearing forest land allegedly in violation of Supreme Court orders.

According to the BBC, Sterlite Industries has been accused of cutting down trees while constructing a new power plant in Chhattisgarh. However, the company has denied that they have cleared forests unlawfully and claimed of cutting down trees only on privately owned land.

Sterlite controls 51 percent of shares in the Bharat Aluminium Company (Balco) in Chhattisgarh and also possesses 1,751 acres of forestland there.

Balco insists that it was granted permission by district officials on private land only and added that the Supreme Court had not placed any restraints on such action.

However, according to two government reports dated October 2010, trees were cut down in an area owned by the state government, which is officially designated as forestland in government records. The documents also contain satellite-mapping technology, which reveals that a large number of trees were felled in about 90 acres of forestland, the report said.

An inquiry to establish whether Balco has violated the Supreme Court's orders, which banned the felling of trees at the site in 2008, is now being carried out based on the allegations made by a Congress party leader in Chhattisgarh.

The leader has named senior Balco officials as being in contempt of court.

The Vedanta group had been in headlines recently after the Indian government denied it permission to mine bauxite in the Niyamgiri hills in the state of Orissa. (ANI)

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