Abhijit Roy Chowdhury
NEW DELHI: Vedanta’s proposed plan to mine the bauxite-rich Niyamgiri mountains in Kalahandi district of Orissa suffered a major set back on Tuesday when a four-member panel jointly formed by Ministry of Environment and Forests and Ministry of Tribal Affairs recommended that the company should not be allowed to mine the mountain.
Severely indicting Vedanta of violating all four major forest legislation in the proposed Bauxite mining in Niyamgiri, the panel said that it would shake the faith of tribal people in the area.
Vedanta is an LSE-listed diversified FTSE 100 metals and mining company.
Dr NC Saxena committee has strongly recommended to the Environment and Forest ministry not to grant lease for the Proposed Mining Lease (PML) area.
The four member committee headed by Dr NC Saxena today submitted its report to Mr Jairam Ramesh Minister of state for Environment and Forest Indepenent Charge on investigation into the proposal submitted by the Orissa Mining Company for Bauxite Mining in Niyamgiri.
After submitting the report Dr Saxena said that the most blatant example of it is their act of illegally enclosing and occupying at least 26.123 ha of Village Forest Land within its refinery depriving tribal, dalits and other rural poor of their rights.
“The Vedenta Company has consistently violated the Forest Conservation Act (FCA), Forest Regulation Act (FRA) , Environment Act (EPA) and the Orissa Forest Act in active collusion with the state officials, said Dr NC Saxena.
Reacting to the Dr NC Saxena committee report Jairam Ramesh said only after the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) schedule meeting on August 20, the central government will make its recommendation.
The immediate task before the environment ministry is to give stage II clearance for the expansion which is pending in the ministry since 2007, said a senior ministry official.
The committee also pointed out that there is another formality to be completed by the state government. Since in district Rayagada the formalities of section 6 onwards under the Orissa Forest Act in respect of Khambesi and Nimagiri PRF have not been completed, it is clear that the condition imposed by the central government in its order dated December, 2008 has not been fulfilled.