SC to hear Odishas plea on Vedanta

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear state government`s plea challenging Centre`s decision to cancel environmental clearance given to Vedanta bauxite mining project in Niyamgiri Hills.

A bench headed by Justice P Sathasivam decided to adjudicate the dispute between the state government and the Centre arising out of Ministry of Environment and Forest decision to reject the environmental clearance to Vedanta`s USD 1.7 billion bauxite mining project proposed in Orissa.

Challenging the Environment Ministry`s order of August 24, 2010, the state government filed an application through Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC), contending that the Centre`s decision was in violation of the Supreme Court`s previous order giving a green signal to the project.

Senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for OMC, contended that the order was illegal, arbitrary and in violation of the apex court`s direction.

The Centre had rejected the clearance citing various violation of forest and environmental laws and had withdrawn its in-principle approval given to the project in 2007 by the Ministry of Environment and Forest.

While turning down the clearance, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh had said, "There has been a very serious violation of Environment Protection Act, Forest Conservation and Rights Acts by the Orissa Government" as also violation of norms by the company.

The Centre had said just because the ministry had given an in-principle approval to the project in 2007, it could not be treated as fait accompli.

It had also accused Vedanta of having committed several irregularities after the Supreme Court had given a favourable judgement to the project for mining in August 2008.