MAC: Mines and Communities

Once more into the breach - Vedanta

Published by MAC on 2012-04-24
Source: India Today (2012-04-22)

UK company brazenly flouted construction rules

Two and a half years ago, Vedanta's BALCO subsidiary was accused of illegally constructing a coal-fired power plant whose chimney collapsed, killing at least forty two workers in the Indian township of Korba, Chhattisgarh. See: Many workers die as chimney collapses at Indian plant

Critics claim the UK-listed company then proceeded to build a replacement plant without obtaining necessary permits. See: http://londonminingnetwork.org/2012/03/report-calls-for-stricter-regulation-of-uk-mining-companies-2/

Last weekend, these allegations were confirmed by documents obtained under India's Right to Information Act, leading the mayor of Korba to declare:

"We have strongly objected and sought to dismantle the illegal construction in the past. Notices have been issued to Balco repeatedly and stiff fines imposed. Better speak to the police why no action has been taken after the complaints were lodged".

Chhattisgarh: Brazen Balco flouting rules in power plant construction

India Today

22 April 2012

Vedanta controlled Bharat Aluminium Company Ltd (Balco) in Chhattisgarh apparently didn't bother to seek "mandatory" permission from the Korba Municipal Corporation (KMC) for its projects in the area.

Documents obtained from the KMC under the right to information (RTI) have revealed that despite several notices having been served to Balco in the last few years to halt construction, it continued with the work without the necessary permits.

Some of the major projects are being carried out in the industrial town of Korba, including a couple of thermal power plants. Balco has not only completed the construction of a 540 MW plant in Korba, a case against which is pending in the court, it has also began constructing another 1,200 MW power plant, 80 per cent of which is complete.

No permission was reportedly taken for an under-construction chimney at the 1,200 MW plant, which collapsed in September 2009, killing 46 workers.

Interestingly, even as the judicial investigation into the mishap is still on, Balco has started constructing another chimney close to the accident site.

"Eleven notices, the last one on October 3, 2011, were served to Balco to stop work on the 1,200 MW plant," the documents revealed. But the company didn't respond to a single notice.

KMC mayor Jogesh Lamba said it is mandatory to take permission for any construction work falling within the jurisdiction of a civic body even though the firm may have entered into an agreement with the state.

"We have strongly objected and sought to dismantle the illegal construction in the past. Notices have been issued to Balco repeatedly and stiff fines imposed. Better speak to the police why no action has been taken after the complaints were lodged," Lamba said.

Balco refuted the charges. "There has been nothing illegal in our construction work. We have entered into an agreement with the government and are working accordingly," Binod Kumar Srivastawa, Balco's spokesperson, said.

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