MAC: Mines and Communities

Vedanta tells Indian court it can't obey clean-up order

Published by MAC on 2009-11-23
Source: Times of India

In September 2009, a 9-year old boy from Advalpal village, Goa, successfully took Vedanta to a Bombay court, accusing its iron ore subsidiary, Sesa Goa, of illegally dumping wastes which led to major flood destruction during recent heavy rains. See:

A fortnight ago, Sesa Goa was called back to court, to explain how (not whether) it would remove the offending wastes. But the company reportedly claimed it couldn't do so - because such removal would only create further land slides, causing "filthy water" to run back into Advalpal.

'It is not feasible to remove mining dumps at Advalpal'

Times of India

10 November 2009

PANAJI: Sesa Goa on Monday informed the high court of Bombay at Goa that removing illegal mining dumps along the Advalpal nullah may not be feasible as per expert findings of an inspection carried out by the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) on September 30 and October 1, this year.

The division bench comprising Justice V K Tahilramani and Justice N A Britto were hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Akash Naik, a nine-year-old child of Advalpal village through his mother Sharmila Naik together with the Goa Foundation.

The petitioners had alleged that Sesa Goa was indulging in hazardous mining in violation of the approved mining plan.

The petition states that in March 2009 the villagers had complained to the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) that the company was illegally dumping mining waste along the steep slopes near the nullah. However no action was initiated by IBM.

On June 6 this year, the worst fears of the villagers were realized after the dumps collapsed due to heavy rains. Tonnes of mining waste overflowed into the nullah and destroyed a concrete embankment.

This led to flooding of villager's houses and large-scale destruction of paddy fields.

IBM visited the site 10 days after the disaster and issued a notice to Sesa Goa after it found that the approved mining plan had been violated.

Thereafter the state appointed an expert committee pursuant to the high court's intervention, to examine the situation created by the disaster on June 6.

A report filed by the expert committee before the HC stated that "the nullah has choked up and overflown into the houses, which suggests that the drains and other related protective works could not cater to the requirement of the heavy rains."

The court thereafter, on September 17, restrained Sesa Goa from carrying on its mining activities at Phase 1 & Phase 2 of the company's iron ore mine at Advalpal.

The court also directed the company to place a proposal before the court for removing the mining dumps within a fixed time frame.

During the hearing on Monday, advocate Norma Alvares pointed out that it's not a question of whether the company wants or does not want to remove the dump.

The court had directed the company to come up with a plan for removing the illegal dump within a fixed time frame, she argued.

Senior counsel, Atmaram Nadkarni, appearing for the company, told the court that it is not feasible to remove the dumps as per the expert findings.

Earlier the company had filed an affidavit in the petition wherein it had stated that it is not advisable to remove the dump as disturbance of the dump would lead to large scale slide, filthy water running into the village. The court will hear the petition after three weeks.

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