Environment ministry to give decision on Vedanta mining project

Posted By: Abdul Nisar
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Bhubaneswar, Aug 24 (ANI): Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh is expected to give his final word on the Vedanta mining project in the Niyamgiri hills of Orissa today.

According to sources, the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the ministry has accepted almost all the recommendations made by the Saxena Committee.

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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