Centre insists on fresh Vedanta proposal for expansion bid

Cuttack, Feb 2 (PTI) Justifying its order stallingexpansion work of Vedanta Alumina Refinery in Orissa''sKalahandi district, the Centre today insisted that the companyshould furnish a fresh proposal to obtain environmentalclearance for such a bid.

"The process for environmental clearance has to bestarted de novo," said an affidavit filed by the UnionMinistry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in the Orissa HighCourt in response to a writ petition by Vedanta AluminiumLimited (VAL) challenging the stalling order.

VAL in August 2007 had applied for expansion of itsLanjigarh-based existing refinery capacity from 1 to 6 MTPAand captive power plant from 75 to 300 MW. But pendingenvironmental clearance from MoEF, the company went ahead withconstruction work for its six-fold refinery and four-foldpower plant expansion proposal.

��������Exercising powers under Environment (Protection) Act1986 and Rules thereof, the MoEF in October last year hadordered the company to maintain status quo at the plant siteand also withdrew the terms of reference (ToR) issued to thecompany in March 2009 for expansion.

Cancelling the public hearing conducted by the companywith respect to expansion project, the MoEF had also directedthe Orissa Forest and Environment secretary to take legalaction against the company for violating Environment ImpactAssessment (EIA) notification of 2006.

However, challenging the MoEF order, VAL had moved theOrissa High Court through a writ petition and at the same timemoved the ministry in at least three letters written in themonths of October, November and December 2010 requesting forwithdrawal of its October 20, 2010 directions.

Responding to the notices issued to it by the HCpertaining to VAL writ, the MoEF said that the requests of thecompany have been duly examined and under statutory provisionsthe violations committed by the company have been referred toExpert Appraisal Committees (EACs) for consideration on themerit of the proposal.

"In the case of VAL, the appraisal process was notcompleted. As the petitioner had violated the provisions ofEIA notification of 2006, final direction were issued forwithdrawal of terms of reference as well as cancellation ofpublic hearing conducted in April 2009. The process ofenvironmental clearance has to be started de novo," the MoEFaffidavit said, adding VAL was requested on January 11 tosubmit the fresh proposal to the ministry for obtainingenvironmental clearance for its expansion project.

Adjourning the hearing of the case, the Division Benchof Chief Justice V Gopala Gowda and Justice B N Mohapatraposted the matter to be heard again on February 21.

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