Odisha Mining Corporation bats for Vedanta: questions rejection of bauxite mining proposal in Niyamgiri hills

Says Union environment ministry does not have powers to overrule Supreme Court which cleared the project

 
By Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

The Orissa Mining Corporation Limited (OMCL) has questioned the validity of the Union environment ministry’s decision, rejecting the company’s application to mine bauxite from Niyamgiri Hills in Kalahandi district of Odisha. The company has said in the Supreme Court on November 23 that the ministry does not have the power to reject the clearance which was approved by the apex court in 2008.

The ministry had rejected the company permission to divert 660.749 hectares of forestland for mining in August 2010. The bauxite mined was meant to feed metals giant Vedanta Alumina Ltd’s alumina refinery at Lanjigarh, according to an agreement between OMCL and the company in 2004. The ministry rejected the clearance, saying the company had violated environmental laws. The decision came after the government-appointed N C Saxena panel found  the project would affect the ecology of Niyamgiri hills and rights of the primitive Kondh tribals who worship the hills.

OMCL challenged this decision in 2011. It claimed the apex court had already cleared the project in two consecutive judgements in November, 2007 and August, 2008. The company said the ministry does not have jurisdiction to overrule Supreme Court’s decision. The court will again hear the matter on November 26.

 

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