New Delhi: Union Ministry of Environment and Forests is investigating alleged violation of forest laws by Vedanta Co and Korean steel maker Posco in Orissa, the Rajya Sabha was informed Monday.
Replying to supplementaries during Question Hour, Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said a four-member expert group is currently in Orissa looking at all cases of alleged violation by Vedanta Co.
An iron ore mining project may comprise both forest and non-forest area and a company can initiate action in non-forest area only after it has received approval for mining
in the forest area, he said.
Vedanta Co is being investigated by the ministry for alleged violation of this guideline, he said. "We will take a final call after report of the expert group is received."
Similarly, Posco was under investigation for alleged violation of forest act in acquisition of land for the mega project.
"Any violation of forest act will not be tolerated," he said.
On the issue of illegal mining in Karnataka, Ramesh said he had written to Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa on July 3 pointing out "gross violation (of the Forest Conservation Act)
by private iron ore mining companies" in the forest area of Sandur near Bellary.
S B Minerals, Trident Minerals and Veeyam Minerals continued to mine in the area "in complete violation of the Forest Advisory Committee resolution of May 10, 2010, which
clearly and explicitly directed that such mining be stopped."
The Chief Minister has "promised to take action against illegal mining," he said pointing that the Forest Conservation Act of 1980 does not empower his ministry to take action.
The Forest Advisory Committee had recommended that the state government should take up a survey and demarcate the area designated under the mining licence.