MAC: Mines and Communities


Published by MAC on 2005-12-09


Press Release: from Manshi Asher, Orissa

9th December 2005

More than 500 people gathered at the Jharsuguda town hall today to protest against the Environment Clearance Public hearing for Vedanta's proposed 2,50,000 TPA Smelter Plant project at Bhrukumunda village. Local communities, political party members, citizens of the town and members of some voluntary organizations came together and demanded that the District Administration cancel the Public Hearing. Activists said that the smelter plant is a subsidiary of the company's aluminium refinery at Lanjigarh, a project that is a matter sub-judice in the Supreme Court of India. "Any work on this project is a part of the Lanjigarh refinery since the raw material for the smelter plant would come from there" pointed out activists.

Two months ago the Central Empowered Committee in its recommendations on the case to the Supreme Court stated that " the honourable court may consider revoking the environment clearance dated 22.9.04 granted by the MoEF for setting up of the Alumina Refinery plant by M/s Vedanta and directing the m to stop work on the project". The committee in its recommendations was critical of the state government and the MOEF for "the casual approach and the lack sidle manner and the haste" with which the environment and forest clearances for the refinery and the mining site were granted. The Supreme Court's judgment on the recommendations is still awaited.

An objection filed to the State Pollution Control Board on the Proposed Smelter Plant Project also states that the EIA report for the proposed plant by VIMTA labs is highly unsatisfactory and doesn't conform to the guidelines of the MoEF, GOI. It says that the report provides deliberately misleading data as well as false information. The objection goes on to point out the possible adverse impacts of the proposed plant on the local climate, biodiversity, and water resources as well as lives of the people in the region. The area within 10 kms. radius of the proposed smelter plant is already congested with several sponge iron plants and the huge Bhushan Steel unit. The cumulative impacts of the pollution caused by these industries have to be considered before any new plants are set up.

It is surprising that in spite of receiving criticism from all quarters for the manner in which the state has gone about the environment clearance procedures in the Vedanta case, it continues to repeat the same behaviour again and again. The district administration and Pollution Control board went ahead with the hearing today in spite of a legal notice filed by the Supreme Court lawyer to the State Pollution Contro Board stating that the matter is subjudice and the notice of the hearing on the 9 th must be withdrawn.'

The collector, who is supposed to Chair the Public Hearing panel was absent. The Sub -collector who chaired the panel said that it was for the government and not the public to decide if this Public hearing is illegal.

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