Broke no law, looking for alternate site: Vedanta

Govt has rejected environment clearance to its bauxite mining project proposed in Orissa citing serious violation of forest and environment laws.

New Delhi: Hours after the Environment Ministry denied permission to Vedanta Resources for its USD 1.7 million bauxite mining project in Niyamgiri hills in Orissa, the company hit back at the state government saying its project did not violate any environmental guidelines.

"Vedanta Resources Plc reconfirms that there has been no
regulatory violations of any kind at the Lanjigarh Alumina
refinery. We are not in possession of Niyamgiri mines and no mining activity will be undertaken till all approvals are in place," the company said in a statement here.

Earlier today, the Ministry of Environment and Forest today rejected environment clearance to its bauxite mining project proposed in Orissa citing serious violation of forest and environment laws.

Separately, the Ministry had later on Tuesday said that the company’s Lanjigarh aluminia refinery in the state were sourcing bauxite from illegal mines in Jharkhand.

The COO of Vedanta aluminum limited Dr. Mukesh Kumar said that there was no environment guidelines violation in the Lanjigarh project and all of Vedanta’s project follow strict environmental guidelines.

The official said that the company would approach the Ministry of Environment and Forest again.

Putting the onus on the government of Orissa, he said the company does not own mines in Niyamgiri hills.

The company also said that the Orissa government is
"actively considering" to allocate alternate bauxite mines to feed its 1 million capacity alumina Lanjigarh refinery where capacity augmentation is planned at an investment of USD 1.7 billion.

"There has been a very serious violation of Environment Protection Act, Forest Conservation and Rights Acts by the Orissa Government and Vedanta`s bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri Hills," Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh told
reporters in the day in Delhi.

Therefore the stage II forest clearance for the State-owned Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) and Sterlite Bauxite mining project on the Niyamgiri Hills in Lanjigarh, Kalahandi and Rayagadha districts of the state cannot be
granted, he said.

The company said it has already invested USD 5.4 billion
in its aluminium projects in Orissa and "remains committed to working with the local communities to ensure sustainable development in this region."

"As at 31 March 2010, Vedanta had invested USD 5.4 billion in its Aluminium projects in Orissa. Around 10,000
people are employed at the Lanjigarh alumina refinery plant.
Vedanta is currently operating its Alumina refinery with
outsourced bauxite," it said.

It said state government had signed a pact with the
company in 2004 for setting up an integrated alumina and
aluminium complex along with the associated captive power plant in the state of Orissa.

This MoU also included supplying 150 million tonnes of
bauxite for the Vedanta?s alumina refinery at Lanjigarh, the company said adding, towards this the Government of Orissa identified Niyamgiri mine as the initial source of bauxite supply to the extent of 78 million tonnes," it said.

PTI inputs

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