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  • FAC meet to discuss recommendation of Saxena panel on Vedanta

    Published on August 19, 2010

    The Environment Ministry’s Forest Advisory Committee will meet on Friday to discuss recommendations of the N C Saxena panel report seeking ban on mining projects of UK-based Vedanta Resources in Niyamgiri Hills in Orissa citing violation of norms.

    Based on the FAC’s decisions, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh will subsequently take a call on the fate of the project, which seems to be uncertain against the backdrop of the panel’s serious indictment to Vedanta as well the state government for violating a host of forest and green norms.

    The allegations have been, however, strongly refuted by the Naveen Patnaik government, which claimed that the Saxena report has cast aspersions on the state over grant of mining licenses, even though the Apex Court has already given its ruling on the matter.

    Ramesh had already made it clear last week that he would look at the matter in its totality, taking into account the various laws and economic consideration and… “Only then will a final clearance be given to the mining project,” he had said.

    The Saxena report, which will be taken up by the Forest Advisory Committee has sought ban on the mining saying that its continuation in the proposed Niyamgiri hills will deprive two tribes – Kutia and Dongaria Kondh – of their rights and shake the faith of the tribal people.

    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.

    The Saxena panel had found serious violations in the provisions of environmental clearance and the Environment Protection Act, Forest Rights Act and Forest Conservation Act by the private firm.

    One such violation relates to the unauthorised expansion of its production capacity from 1 million tonne a year to six million tonnes.

    “The expansion had no environment clearance and Vedanta has ignored repeated notices sent by the Orissa Pollution Control Board to stop work,” the four-member panel had said in its voluminous report tracing back the sequence of the company’s project in the region.

    The minister had said he would look into the reported violations and requisite action would follow.

    Reacting to high-powered panel’s findings, Orissa government, in a strongly worded letter to the Environment Ministry, has said, “It is shocking to note that the Committee has preferred to discuss in a derogatory manner the issues which have already been considered and adjudicated by the Supreme Court.

    “If a judicious view is taken by the environment ministry, most of the findings of the Committee will not hold water,” the Orissa government claimed.


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