Environment Ministry rejects Vedanta mining project in Orissa

Posted By: Samyuktha
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Niyamgiri Hills (Orissa), Aug 24 (ANI): The Ministry of Environment on Tuesday rejected Vedanta mining project in Orissa's Niyamgiri Hills.

Talking to reporters here, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said that the Anil Agarwal-owned Vedanta Resources has violated laws and the Niyamgiri Hills project cannot be given the go ahead unless the Forest Act is complied with.

"There has been a very serious violation of laws. There has been violation of the Forest Rights Act. Therefore, the project cannot go ahead," he added.

A panel set up by the Environment Ministry which submitted its report last week had also advised rejection of the mining project, saying it would endanger the survival of tribals living in the project area.

On Monday, Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik met Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and discussed the Vedanta mining and Posco steel plant projects.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Patnaik said: "I discussed about Posco steel project and Vedanta bauxite mining, and told him (Prime Minister) that work ought not be stopped.

"The Prime Minister said that he would certainly see that this matter is taken up and give a push to the project." Patnaik added.

Asked about the delays in the Vedanta project, Patnaik said his government has given its response to the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

Patnaik said Dr. Singh also gave him assurances on the Polavaram dam project in Andhra Pradesh, saying that no tribal village in Orissa would be submerged.

The state government had earlier questioned the blockage of the Posco and Vedanta projects, when it has approved the Polavaram Dam without conducting Gram Sabhas and public hearings in the state at the same time.

The Saxena panel had found serious violations in the provisions of environmental clearance and the Environment Protection Act by Vedanta.

One such violation related to the unauthorised expansion of capacity from one million tonne a year to six million tons.

The expansion had no environment clearance and Vedanta is said to have ignored repeated notices sent by the Orissa Pollution Control Board to stop work.

Set up by the Environment Ministry early this year, the committee, which investigated alleged violations of environmental laws by Vedanta, also accused the company of illegally occupying forest land for its USD 1.7 billion project. (ANI)

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