New Delhi: The Orissa government on Friday
approached the Supreme Court challenging the Centre`s decision
to reject environmental clearance to Vedanta bauxite mining
project in Niyamgiri Hills.
Challenging the Environment Ministry`s order of August
24, 2010, the state government filed an application through
Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC), contending that the Centre`s
decision was in violation of the Supreme Court`s previous
order giving a green signal to the project.
Senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for OMC,
contended that the order was illegal, arbitrary and in
violation of the apex court`s direction.
A bench headed by Justice P Sathasivam agreed to hear
the plea and also suggested that the state government and the
mining corporation may file a contempt petition against the
Centre if they thought that the Supreme Court`s order had been
In a major setback to the UK-based Vedanta group, the
Centre had on August 24 last year rejected the environmental
clearance to its USD 1.7 billion bauxite mining project
proposed in Orissa.
The Centre had rejected the clearance citing various
violation of forest and environmental laws and had withdrawn
its in-principle approval given to the project in 2007 by the
Ministry of Environment and Forest.
While turning down the clearance, Environment Minister
Jairam Ramesh had said, "There has been a very serious
violation of Environment Protection Act, Forest Conservation
and Rights Acts by the Orissa Government" as also violation of
norms by the company.
The Centre had said just because the ministry had
given an in-principle approval to the project in 2007, it
could not be treated as fait accompli.
The ministry had refused the stage II forest clearance
to the state-owned OMC and Sterlite Bauxite mining project in
the Niyamgiri Hills area in Lanjigarh, Kalahandi and Rayagadha
districts, while accepting the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC)
recommendation for withdrawal of the forest and environment
It had also accused Vedanta of having committed
several irregularities after the Supreme Court had given a
favourable judgement to the project for mining in August 2008.