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Vedanta Harmed Environment In India -Environment Group

Published by MAC on 2006-08-02

Vedanta Harmed Environment In India -Environment Group

By Jackie Range


2nd August 2006

LONDON Environmental campaigners Wednesday will raise allegations at miner Vedanta Resources PLC's (VED.LN) annual general meeting in London that the company harmed the environment and committed permitting violations at some of its Indian operations, they said.

The allegations relate to the company's closely watched Orissa aluminum and alumina and Tamil Nadu copper expansion projects, Roger Moody of Nostromo Research, a community consultancy and campaign group on mining, told Dow Jones Newswires.

When asked to respond to each allegation Wednesday before the meeting, Vedanta denied some of the claims and contested others. Successful delivery on the expansion projects is seen as a key test for Vedanta's growth plans, analysts said.

Activists Wednesday said they would show photographic evidence, which they said shows Vedanta is building the foundations of a power plant at Jharsuguda, Orissa, and conducting a land-clearance program, without approval from India's Ministry of Environment and Forests, Moody said. Vedanta said it has specific approval from the Ministry of Environment and Forests to clear land at Jharsuguda.

"No construction work" is taking place at the site, said a company spokesman.

Nostromo's Moody also alleged that Vedanta has constructed part of a conveyer belt and proceeded with the construction of an alumina refinery, which he alleged was deemed illegal.

Vedanta said its alumina refinery has all permissions required and that the alumina refinery conveyer belt isn't being built outside the plant or into the Nyamgiri hills.

India's Minister for Environment and Forests, A. Raja, wasn't immediately available to comment.

Nostromo's Moody also alleged that Vedanta hasn't conformed to conditions laid down by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, an Indian state agency, which had asked the company to reduce the size of its phospho-gypsum pile. Phospho-gypsum is a waste material from copper smelting.

The agency had ruled that the pile should be smaller than 9 meters, said Nostromo's Moody, but he alleged that it has grown as large as 25 meters over the last year.

A Vedanta spokesman wasn't immediately available to comment on the phospho-gypsum.

The company said it would not allow journalists to attend the annual general meeting Wednesday.

The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

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