UK company faces yet another indictment in IndiaPublished by MAC on 2005-10-20
20th October 2005
The UK rogue company, Vedanta Resources plc, has been cited for another violation of India's forestry protection legislation, by its subsidiary BALCO. The following text is taken from the latest report by the Indian Supreme Court's Central Empowered Committee (CEC) delivered at its Hearing of October 20th 2005. (The case against Essar Steel and others, referred to in the report, is not included here).
"The next important matter heard was I.A. No. 1424-1425 [relating to BALCO and Essar Steel]. The counsel of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) A.D.N.Rao suggested that this case be transferred to the CEC. However the court felt that the lessee should first come to court and then the CEC can be directed to look into the matter in detail if the need arises. The court issued notices to all respondents including BALCO and Essar Steel Ltd.
"I.A. No. 1424-1425: Three Instances of Deliberate Violations, Encroachment and Illegal Mining/Industrial Operations in Chattisgarh by BALCO, Essar and others
"An application against illegal mining and encroachment of forest land by Bharat Aluminim Company Limited (BALCO), Essar Steel Ltd and others was filed before the Supreme Court and came up for hearing in the Godavarman case on 21st October 2005.
"This application seeks to bring to the notice of the court, three instances of deliberate and willful violations of the 12.12.1996 order of the Supreme Court. It also highlights the violations of the provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, by the state of Chhatisgarh to allowing private parties/companies to carry out non-forest activities including mining operations for commercial purposes in the forest of Chhatisgarh.
The IA... describe[s] in detail the violation by BALCO, which was first granted permission to set up a plant in Korba between 1968-1972. In 2001, BALCO is privatized and taken over by the Sterlite group, which puts forth plans for expansion of the plant. In 2003 a dispute arises around the non-existence of a lease deed and the state government of Chhatisgarh decides to charge a premium to the privatized BALCO. BALCO challenges this in the Chhatisgarh High Court. The High Courts issues orders in favour of BALCO granting a stay with respect of payment of premium with respect to 829 acres of land.
"In May-June 2005, the Minister of Revenue, Nanki Ram Kanwar a resident of Korba and a local MLA order[s] an enquiry based on reports of encroachment of around 1000 acres of land by BALCO. This land is mostly Chhote Bade Jhad Ka Jungle. On 17.2.2005, an eleven-member committee headed by the Naib Tehsildar and supervised by the Superintendent of Land Records, submits its report. The report gives clear finds on BALCO having encroached 1000 acres of land in complete violation of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. The report also highlighted that about 50,000 trees have been cut by the BALCO management. This is where the expansion of the present plant of BALCO has taken place, where the construction of buildings, chimney and other components of the plant have been completed.
"13.7.2005, a question is raised in the Assembly, and the responses were contradictory. They also pointed to the fact that since there is a High Court stay on the non-payment of premium on 829 acres of land, no action can be taken by the government."