Vedanta Group Chairman Anil Agarwal meets Ramesh

New Delhi: Vedanta Group Chairman Anil Agarwal on Monday met Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh and sought clearance for Vedanta Alumina Limited`s (VAL) Stage-II bauxite mining project in Orissa.

Sources in the Ministry said the Vedanta chief requested Ramesh to reconsider his decision to reject its Stage-II bauxite mining in Niyamgiri Hills for Lanjigarh refinery.

The Minister pointed out the case filed by VAL challenging the Centre`s decision was currently before the Orissa High Court but asked Agarwal to "make a fresh application" before the Ministry, sources said.

Later, when asked about the meeting and whether the project was discussed, Agarwal said, "we discussed it."

The Orissa High Court will be hearing the case on February 2.

Besides the VAL, Orissa government too has filed separate petitions relating to the case while several PILs, including one by Lanjigarh Anchalika Vikash Parishad, were also filed in the HC seeking to quash the October 22, 2010 notice of Environment Ministry.

Disallowing mining in Niyamgiri Hills of Kalahandi district, the Ministry had scrapped the proposal of six-fold capacity of the refinery from one million tonne per annum capacity to six million tonne per annum.

The Ministry had stopped sourcing raw material for Vedanta’s Lanjigarh refinery from mines for not having environmental clearance.

The Ministry had asked Jharkhand government to ensure that mines from the state supplying raw material to Vedanta refinery get environmental clearance.

The Centre had ordered the Vedanta to immediately halt expansion work of the refinery project asking the company to fulfill a number of conditions before operating its existing alumina refinery.

It was alleged that Vedanta was in illegal possession of 26 hectares of forest land and it was in an expansion mode to enhance its capacity.