NATIONAL ENVIRONMENT APPELLATE AUTHORITY (NEAA) SUSPENDS ENVIRONMENT CLEARANCE FOR NIYAMGIRI MINING PROJECT OF VEDANTA PLC
The National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA) on 16-9-2010 has suspended the environmental clearance granted to the Niyamgiri mining project of M/s Orissa Mining Corporation and Vedanta Ltd. This was granted by the MoEF on 28-4-2009. The order came as a result of appeal filed by the 25 Dongria Kondhs and others.
The NEAA found fault with the approval granted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests since the whole public hearing process was undermined. The contention of the Appellant was that the Public hearing was held in 2003 whereas the project was approved on the basis of an EIA prepared in 2005. The law requires that the EIA document should be prepared before the Public Hearing for public comments but no such opportunity was provided to the affected communities. The NEAA is its judgement held that:
“It is clear that the Vimta Labs EIA report of 2005 on the basis of which the EC was granted was never in public domain for people to express their views/ concerns during the two public hearings held during 2003, leading to non compliance of Ministry’s notification. Further a perusal of the rapid EIA by Vimta Labs reveals that it lacks analysis in respect of human miseries which the project is likely to inflict”
“The authority therefore remits the matter to the Ministry with directions to revisit its environment clearance including the aspect of public hearing and take appropriate action. Till this process is over, the Environment Clearance stands suspended”
This is an important decision given that Ministry of Environment and Forest had overlooked the crucial issue of public participation. The Appeal is also significant given the fact the MoEF had been found at fault for approving the project without considering the crucial issue of participation of the Dongrai Kondhs who are a vulnerable tribal community.
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