Vedanta expansion programme in doldrums

Bhubaneswar: Uncertainty looms large over the expansion programme of the Lanjigarh project of Vedanta Alumina following the suspension of the public hearing about the project even as the company claimed that it was an old issue which had already been settled earlier. However, the state government said steps would be taken in the matter on the basis of the earlier order of the Supreme Court.

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests(MoEF) recently asked the state government to suspend the proposed public hearing regarding the expansion programme of the Lanjigarh project since the dispute over the conservation of 28 hectares of forest land falling within the refinery and captive power plant area of the project remained unresolved. However, the company authorities argued that the Supreme Court had earlier in November,2007 and August,2008 had given permission in the matter. The Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of the company Mukesh Kumar wondered why the Centre was once again raising an old issue.

The said piece of land measuring 28 hectares was identified for the rehabilitation of the families displaced for the establishment of the oil refinery. However, the state government handed over the land to the revenue department after withdrawing the permission for conversion of the land category once the displaced families were settled in the rehabilitated colony. The land rights remained with the revenue department though the company was asked to raise forest on the land.

The company authorities clarified that it had already submitted all the relevant papers concerning the dispute to the MoEF, state government and the Supreme Court. The public hearing was to be held on May 2 regarding the expansion of the refinery from one to six million ton per anum and the capacity of the captive power plant from 75 MW to 285 MW. However, the State Pollution Control Board has not yet suspended the public hearing as it has reportedly not received any communication from the Centre regarding the suspension of the public hearing.