NEAA suspends green nod to Vedanta's bauxite mining project

Yesterday, the company, in its reply to the showcause notice slapped by the environment ministry, had claimed that it had not violated any forest rights at the project site in Niyamgiri hills of Kalahandi district.

Last month, the ministry had rejected the stage-II forest clearance for the state-owned Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) and Sterlite Bauxite mining project citing a series of violations and issued a showcause notice in this direction to file a reply.

However, in the ruling that was made public today, the NEAA took serious note that the environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report which formed the basis for the ministry for granting clearance was never placed before the public for hearing.

"The EIA which was conducted in 2005 and on the basis of which the clearance was granted, was never in public domain for local people during the two public hearings held in Raiguda and Kalahandi during 2003," it said while terming the action as non-compliance of ministry's notification.

Moreover, it said, a perusal of rapid EIA by (Vimta Labs) reveals that it lacks analysis in respect of human miseries which the project is likely to inflict./

The Authority ruled that "therefore it remits the matter to the Ministry with direction to revisit environment clearance including the aspect of public hearing and take appropriate action. Till this process is over, the environment clearance stands suspended."

The Authority had examined "whether environmental clearance suffered from inadequacy of safeguards" as the Supreme Court on 8 August, 2008, had granted clearance for diverting 660.749 ha (the project site) of forest land to undertake bauxite mining.
"This order has also exposed the functioning of the EAC which gave nod to the project even though the EIA report was not available to the locals to study its impact. This is violation of the rules," said Supreme Court advocate Ritwick Dutta who had fought the case on behalf of the petitioners including local NGOs.

The company has been maintaining that there has been no violation on its part and it is a law-abiding company having high respect for the law of the land

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