The CEC, Supreme Court, has issued a strong letter to MOEF asking
whether they are taking actions
to stop the ongoing works of the
project, given that the environmental clearance was obtained on wrong
CEC has also taken cognisance of 17 mining encroachment cases
which have been regularised in violation of FCA, 1980 and
Court orders and asked the MOEF to furnish details of the same.
We are enclosing the copy of the CEC letter
(courtesy Forest Case
update) and coverage of the Press conference addressed by Prafulla
Samantra and Biswajit
Mohanty on this issue.
Independent Media, Bhubaneswar
People's forum for steps against forest fellers
Statesman News Service
BHUBANESWAR, March 9. — The
Loka Shakti Abhijan, a people's forum led
by Mr Prafulla Samantara today said that the state government should
its "nexus" with the corporate mafia and take exemplary action
against those who had violated forest laws and engaged in
felling to favour mining activity.
Referring extensively to the ongoing hearing in the Vedanta Alumina
by the Central Empowered Committee in which he is one of the
petitioners, Mr Samantara said, besides the Vedanta issue
17 other instances of violations which had subsequently been
"regularised" by the government.
these 17 instances have also figured during the hearing and it is
time for the state government to own up responsibility,
Samantara at a press conference here.
The CEC has directed the ministry of environment and forests not to
on any proposal for diversion of forest land or mining activity
as far as Vedanta project is concerned till the matter
before the CEC is disposed.
The state government has been caught on the wrong foot. It is clear
that the ministry had also erred in accordance with the environment
clearances for the plant site despite the fact that
58 hectares of
forest land was involved and secondly the plant was linked to the
mining area of Niyamagiri said Samantara.
fact that there was an attempt to segregate the two (mines and
plant area) and claim that the plant site had no forest
land has been
exposed, he maintained. The Loka Shakti Abhijan leader and Mr Biswajit
Mohanty, secretary of the Wildlife
Society of Orissa, who is also a
petitioner, said they have pressed for identification and action
against all those
who had violated the forest law. Tribals and the
common man are hauled up even for minor forest offences whereas
in the mining sector have been left untouched, they charged.
Listing out his demands, Mr Samantara said Orissa needs to
from the corporate plunder.
The state government, as well as the Vedanta Alumina, are of the view
the mining from the proposed forest area is an integral part of
the project without which the project cannot be made viable.Hence
environmental clearance has been accorded under the wrong premise that
no forest land is involved. In this situation
how can any
environmental clearance for the plant area alone be valid when the
same for the mining area has not been
granted and when forest land
exists even in the plant area, he asked.
Mr Samantara released a letter issued by the
CEC to the ministry of
environment and forests where views were sought on how environmental
clearances were accorded
to the plant area when it involved 58
hectares of forest land, how work had started when guidelines
work pending clearances, whether any action is
proposed to be initiated against the project authorities for obtaining
clearance on wrong premises etc.
The hearing has been posted to 29 March, added Mr Samantara.
CENTRAL EMPOWERED COMMITTEE
(CONSTITUTED BY HON'BLE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
IN WRIT PETITION (CIVIL
NO. 202/95 & 171/96)
Gate No. 31, Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium, Lodhi Road, New Delhi-3, Tel:
30944904 Fax: 24363976
2nd March 2005
Mr. A.D.N. Rao
Standing Counsel for the MoEF
Sub: Hearing of
Application Nos. 564, 571 and 579 regarding bauxite
mining and refinery project by M/s Vedanta Aluminum Ltd.
As decided during the hearing held on 28.2.2005 views of
the MoEF on the following may
please be made available to the CEC
clearance to the project has been
accorded by the MoEF stating that it does not involve any forest land.
58 ha. and 680 ha. of forest land is involved for
setting up of the plant and for mining respectively. The State
as well as M/s Vedanta Alluminum Ltd. are of the view that
mining from the proposed forest area is an integral part of
project without which the project cannot be viable. It is therefore
seen that the environmental clearance has been
accorded under wrong
premise that no forest land is involved. Under these circumstances,
how the environmental clearance
of the project can remain valid and
whether the MoEF is initiating action to stop the ongoing work of the
the MoEF guidelines issued for implementation of
the FC Act prohibits
starting of work on non forest land pending a
decision about non forestry use of forest land under the FC Act. IN
instant case substantial work has already been carried out.
Whether any action in this regard has been initiated by the
(iii) the guidelines issued by MoEF stipulate that the
and the FC Act clearance to a project
involving use of the forest land will be accorded simultaneously. In
case since a decision under the FC Act has not been taken,
whether the environmental clearance accorded to the project
(iv) whether any action is proposed to be initiated
the project authorities for obtaining environmental clearance
on wrong premise and also for starting the work without obtaining
under the FC Act
(v) in the report of the Fact Finding Team
of the CEC,
a copy of which has already been made available to you, a view has
"..Niyamgiri is a
very rich forest from biodiversity point of view. A
proposal has already been approved in the working place to declare
area as a Sanctuary. The relevant abstracts are part of the
petition. It was further revealed that the State Government
a proposal to include this area in the proposed new elephant reserve.
Further, the hills form the origin of
Bansadhara river. The rivulets
coming across these hills are source of water for the local
communities. Any mining in
this area is bound to destroy the
biodiversity and affect the availability of water for local people.
The question of
pollution of Basadhara river is also there. Under
these circumstances, alternative sources of ore should be explored for
View of the MoEF on the above may please be given. View on the other
issues raised in the report of the
Fact Finding Team may also be made
(vi) during the hearing
the applicant had stated that
the river originates from the proposed mining site whereas the
affidavit of the State
Government has statedthat its origin is 235
metres beloe the proposed mining site. View of the MoEF in this regard
as the submissions made by the applicants there are
17 reported cases in Orissa where mining was illegally carried
forest land and thereafter it was regularized by granting permission
under the FC Act. Factual position in this
regard may be provided.
It is requested that the above information may please be provided
immediately. It is also
requested that pending examination of the
project by the CEC and/ or filing of the report in the Supreme Court,
proposal received under the FC Act for diversion of forest land
for the project and /or mining may not be decided.
(i) Shri Ritwick Dutta, Advocate for
Applicatnt in Applications Nos.
564, 571 and 579
(ii) Shri J.K. Das, Advocate for State of Orissa
C.A. Sundermam, Senior Advocate for Respondent M/s Vedanta
( With thanks from Forest Case Update)