Vedanta's refinery expansion plan suffers another setbackPublished by MAC on 2011-10-05
Source: Times of India
For background, see: The Nyamgiri struggle may be over
Vedanta's refinery expansion plan suffers another setback
Times of India
17 September 2011
NEW DELHI: Vedanta has suffered another setback in its fight-back to expand the aluminium refinery in Orissa after the Union environment ministry had struck down its environment clearance for violations.
The Cuttack bench of the Orissa High Court backed the environment ministry and ordered that Vedanta would have to apply afresh for a clearance for expansion if it wants to.
The court in its order said that the ministry was "justified in withdrawing the term of reference and in cancelling the public hearing proceeding held in respect of proposed expansion". It also said that the ministry was "also justified in holding that the process for environmental clearance has to be started de novo for which the petitioner (Vedanta) has to submit fresh proposal to the ministry under the procedure laid down".
The court noted that Vedanta's claim that it had done a lot for the protection of environment and development of tribals in Kalahandi could not absolve it from complying with the green laws for clearance.
It also noted that following regulations while operating the existing plant was also not an excuse to not abide by the statutory process while expanding the refinery.
The court recorded that by the company's admission it was evident that nearly half the work on the refinery had been completed even before it got the requisite clearance, which is in violation of law.
Vedanta in its petition had claimed that the ministry had treated its infringements differently than how it had dealt with other cases such as Lavasa's hill city project and Jindal Power Limited's power project.
The ministry had countered that they were all projects of different nature and so were the violations and apples could not be compared with oranges.
The company has also gone to the Supreme Court seeing clearance for its bauxite mining project in Niyamgiri hills meant to provide raw material to the expanded refinery.