MAC: Mines and Communities

Cbi Cry In Green Case

Published by MAC on 2001-05-01
Source: Telegraph ()

CBI Cry in Green Case

OUR CORRESPONDENT, The Telegraph

Bhubaneswar, May 14: The day before the Supreme Court is to hear a case on the violation of conservation laws by Vedanta Alumina and environmentalists’ arguments, state’s Opposition today demanded a CBI probe into the way the state was “going all out” to “support” the company.

It is alleged that Vedanta’s bauxite mines at Niyamgiri and the almost-complete alumina refinery, both amounting to Rs 4,000 crore, will adversely affect the area’s ecology.

State Congress president Jaydev Jena, former Union minister and leader of Green Kalahandi, an outfit opposing the alumina refinery, Bhakta Charan Das, former Union minister Shrikant Jena, CPM state secretariat member Santosh Das and CPI assistant secretary Ashis Kanungo today alleged that there was a nexus between chief minister Naveen Patnaik and the firm.

“Despite the reports filed by Centrally Empowered Committee, Wildlife Institute of India and even with the case remaining pending in the apex court, the state government is actively supporting and aiding Vedanta. The state should, instead, fulfil its Constitutional obligations and restrain the company,” the Opposition leaders fumed.

A three-judge bench of the apex court will hear the arguments made by Vedanta’s lawyers tomorrow. Meanwhile, the company is losing Rs 1 crore [10 million rupees, or just over US$ 240,000 dollars] every day due to non-clearance of the Niyamgiri mining issue.

The company proposes to build an open cast mine over the Niyamgiri plateau while an alumina refinery in Lanjigarh of Kalahandi district is nearly complete.

Meanwhile, the leaders also gave a call to block all vehicles leading to or out of the Vedanta Alumina factory in Lanjigarh from June 16 as a part of an indefinite “satyagraha”.

In 2005, the Centrally Empowered Committee of the apex court, formed to look into violation of environmental laws, had recommended that the environmental clearance of Lanjigarh refinery should be withdrawn and for Niyamgiri, it should not be given in the first lace.

In a separate report last year Dehra Dun-based Wildlife Institute of India unanimously said: “Threats posed by the proposed project to the important ecosystem will lead to irreversible changes in the ecological characteristics of the area.”

Jena and Das alleged that there are attempts to manipulate the CEC and WII reports in favour of Vedanta company.

“If the court gives the verdict in favour of Vedanta on the basis of manipulated reports, the people of Kalahandi will not take it lying down. Under no circumstances should the interests of 5 lakh people be sacrificed to fill the coffers of an unscrupulous MNC,” they added.
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