MAC: Mines and Communities

India's Supreme Court agrees to hear Orissa plea for Nyamgiri mine

Published by MAC on 2011-04-12
Source: IANS, The Hindu

It seemed to be all over - bar the shouting.

But it isn't quite.

Last year, India's Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) roundly rejected the attempt by notorious UK-listed Vedanta Resources, to mine bauxite from Orissa's Nyamgiri Hills. See: A famous battle is won - now to end the war!

Technically speaking, however, the lease was actually in the hands of the Orissa state mining company, OMC - even though no one doubted that Vedanta would do the mining and profit from its output.

It was therefore little surprise that, at the end of last month, OMC argued before India's Supreme Court that the MoEF 's decision was in breach of an earlier go-ahead for the project, given by the Court itself.

The Supreme Court has now allowed OMC to file a writ petition in support of this contention.

Supreme Court asks for fresh petition on Orissa mining issue


1 April 2011

New Delhi - The Supreme Court Friday asked the Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) to file either a writ petition or a contempt petition against the ministry of environment and forests over its decision against bauxite mining in Kalahandi.

The ministry had refused permission to mine bauxite in Kalahandi's Niyamgiri hills for OMC's joint venture partner Sterlite Industries, a Vedanta sister concern.

An apex court bench of Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice A.K. Patnaik said this after it took objection to the OMC's application that it had filed in the matter, which was disposed of in 2008.

The OMC had filed an application challenging the ministry decision of August 24, 2010, declining permission to mine bauxite in Kalahandi's Niyamgiri hills. The application was filed earlier this month.

The application has said that despite court's clearance, the ministry has reopened the issue by overlooking the apex court clearance to it.

‘The Supreme Court took into account the ecological, environmental, wildlife and relief and rehabilitation measures for the tribals before giving clearance to the project,' the application said.

Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, who had appeared for the OMC and mentioned the matter, was told by the court to either file a writ petition or contempt against the ministry for violating the apex court's order.

However, the court permitted the OMC to convert its application into a writ petition.

The denial of permission by the ministry has come as a set back to the Vedanta's plan to set up an aluminum refinery in Orissa.

Vedanta's move to get an alternative place to mine the bauxite has not succeeded so far.

The apex court by its Nov 23, 2007 and Aug 08, 2008 orders had permitted Sterlite Industries to mine the Kalahandi's Niyamgiri hills.

The multi-crore project involves mining and setting up of a aluminum refining project in the area.

SC agrees to hear Orissa's plea against Centre on Vedanta

The Hindu

1 April 2011

The Supreme Court today agreed to hear Orissa government plea challenging the Centre's decision to cancel environmental clearance given to Vedanta bauxite mining project in Niyamgiri Hills.

A bench headed by Justice P Sathasivam decided to adjudicate the dispute between the state government and the Centre arising out of Ministry of Environment and Forest decision to reject the environmental clearance to Vedanta's USD 1.7 billion bauxite mining project proposed in Orissa.

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.

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.

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.

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