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Cancel environmental clearance to Vedanta Refinery

Written By Gopal Krishna on Monday, February 22, 2010 | 1:49 AM

Green group seeks cancellation of clearance to Vedanta refinery

A green NGO on Friday urged the central government to cancel the clearance granted to the Vedanta group for its alumina refinery in Orissa. It charged the firm with violating the clearance conditions, and said trucks bringing raw material to refinery were polluting the air.

Biswajit Mohanty, secretary of the Wildlife Society of Orissa, has written to
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, alleging that Vedanta is flouting the
conditions in its clearance letter by buying bauxite ore elsewhere and then
carting it to its refinery on trucks that were causing air pollution.

A Vedanta spokesman pointed out that the refinery is the first in the country
and among the few in the world with a "zero discharge system. The
environmental measures adopted in the plant with respect to air and water
pollution is among the best and performance of the same is being regularly
monitored by State pollution Control Board".

The spokesman said: "Vedanta strongly denies any allegations of pollution of
the environment in Lanjigarh." But Mohanty stuck to his charge about trucks
coming to the refinery and causing air pollution en route. "According to the
environment clearance letter the source of bauxite for the alumina refinery will
be from the captive bauxite mines located nearby," he said.

The firm, which is a part of NRI Anil Agarwal-promoted Vedanta Resources Plc,
has not yet started working the mines, but the alumina refinery has been
operating since August 2007.

In 2004, the environment ministry allowed Vedanta to set up and operate the
one-million-tonne per annum alumina refinery and a 75 MW captive power
plant at Lanjigarh village in Kalahandi district, some 600 km from state capital
Bhubaneswar.

"The company is running the refinery with bauxite ore sourced from far away
by using trucks. Thousands of heavy trucks are operating to ferry bauxite for
the refinery and this is causing enormous air pollution in the locality," Mohanty
wrote. "Local tribals are unable to use the roads since they are clogged with
the bauxite loaded trucks heading for the plant."

"The procurement of raw material by road transport from far off places, other
than by conveyor belts from the adjacent Niyamgiri hill was never proposed by
the company in its project report or application filed for environment
clearance," he said.

"This was also not considered by the ministry expert committee on
environment which appraised the project and granted environment clearance."

According to Mohanty: "In financial year 2008, the Lanjigarh refinery produced
0.267 million tonnes of alumina. In 2009, the Lanjigarh refinery produced 0.586
million tonnes of alumina. "Therefore, at least 1.2 million tonnes of bauxite
were consumed in 2009. Using 30 tonne high capacity trucks would mean the
movement of least 40,000 trucks in one year."

Mohanty said environment ministry officials overlooked this condition when
they inspected the complex recently.

from the Economic Times website dated 19.2.2010
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