Environment ministry wants fresh environmental impact assessment for mining giant's Lanjigarh alumina refinery
Mining major Vedanta Aluminum Limited's (VAL) plans of expanding its one million tonnes per annum refinery at Lanjigarh in Odisha has hit an environmental road block. An expert committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forest ((MoEF) has asked the company to carry out a fresh environmental impact assessment (EIA) for expanding the plant's capacity.
The committee's directive is a follow up to an order passed by the Cuttack bench of the Odisha High Court, which had found that Vedanta had violated provisions of the EIA notification of 2006.
The new MoEF directive to VAL is pursuant to a meeting of the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) meeting held on August 27-28, the minutes of which were made public in the third week of September.
The expert committee has given 70 preconditions to VAL, including holding of a fresh public hearing, submission of land acquisition agreements signed with the project-affected and earmarking 5 per cent of profits for social welfare.
VAL wanted to expand the alumina refinery six-fold from it's current capacity of one million tonnes per annum. It had applied to MoEF in 2007 for an environmental clearance but began construction without the ministry's approval.
In October 2010, MoEF stopped the expansion of the refinery in Kalahandi district and ordered that the company redo the EIA and public hearing. It also told the Odisha government to take legal action against the company. The ministry also found that Vedanta was sourcing it's bauxite ore for processing from unlicensed mines.
In February, 2011, the company challenged MoEF's decision before the Cuttack bench of the high court. The court, on July 19, observed that Vedanta had violated statutory environment guidelines and MoEF had rightly asked the company to apply for environment clearance de-novo.
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