Of late, Vedanta, the Aluminium Major, has emerged as the whipping boy of NGOs and Media. Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister Forest & Environment has added fuel to the fire by the statement that the company had violated norms both on the tribal and forest regulation fronts at its Rs 50,000 crore project in Odisha.
Online PR News – 20-March-2010 – – Of late, Vedanta, the Aluminium Major, has emerged as the whipping boy of NGOs and Media. Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister Forest & Environment has added fuel to the fire by the statement that the company had violated norms both on the tribal and forest regulation fronts at its Rs 50,000 crore project in Odisha.
After this Vedanta baiting has reached a crescendo in the state.
The truth is however, some what different, feel Industry Watchers.
The Greenfield project of Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district has been flayed for starting construction on non-forest revenue land before forest clearance is obtained for forest land which is a part of the same project.
Mr.Ramesh, who is heading the Ministry of Forest & Environment (MOEF) has clearly mentioned in a Press Release on 27 November, 2009 that construction on non-forest land while awaiting for forest clearance of forest land, is not a violation of Forest Conservation Act.
It is a violation of the guidelines issued by MOEF under the Act.
MOEF sought an explanation from the Government of Odisha explaining the reasons and circumstances on which such non-forest construction taken up for Lanjigarh Project.
State Government has satisfactorily clarified that construction was undertaken on non-forest revenue land leased out for the Project through IDCO long back.
IDCO is the State PSU, responsible for allotment of land for industrial purpose.
In absence of the clarity in the matter, such construction could not construe violation of law, said Government of Odisha.
In fact MOEF it self have confounded the confusion by violating their own guidelines in various cases.
In December, 2009 MOEF in a similar case relating to a mining project, has advised Government of Odisha to allow mining in non-forest area although the project involves non-forest land and land for which permission was due.
This has again happened only recently in case of another aluminium project near Sambalpur.
In January, 2010, MOEF asked Government of odisha to allow the project proponent to undertake construction activities in non-forest area without even waiting for a compliance report to Stage-I approval.
Applying different principles to different projects has surprised the State Government and Industry Watchers.
They strongly feel that clear cut and uniform guideline should be spelt out to ensure smooth implementation of pending projects requiring both forest and non-forest lands.
They also feel that Vedanta is unfairly dealt with to appease NGO sentiment.