peoples march

from the people against injustice in the society

SC declines mining nod to Vedanta Alumina

Posted by ajadhind on November 24, 2007


The Supreme Court has declined permission to the local unit of Britain’s Vedanta Resources to mine bauxite for its proposed aluminium project in Orissa, but left a door open for its another associate Sterlite Industries to extract the mineral in collaboration with state agencies.

“We are not inclined to grant approval to Vedanta Alumina Ltd (VAL)… From the financial statements it is clear that it is not a subsidiary but an associate of Sterlite and we don’t have its list of assets with us,” a special bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice S H Kapadia said.

Vedanta Alumina can withdraw from the arrangement any time and its operating profits were negligible, it said.As per Vedanta’s website, its profits from aluminium segment were just Rs 455 crore, the court said, adding “it did not have the accounts of Vedanta and thus cannot take the risk of handing over the project”.

While reading the order, Justice Kapadia cited newspaper reports and referred to the Government of Norway’s decision to withdraw investments made in Vedanta over issues ranging from human rights violations to non-compliance of forest and labour laws. However, the bench gave liberty to Sterlite Industries India Ltd to move the court within eight weeks if it was ready to go ahead with the project subject to compliance with certain modalities.  The Orissa government in collaboration with Orissa Mining Corporation and Sterlite will have to set up a special purpose vehicle to develop the scheduled area.While Vedanta Alumina is not listed on Indian bourses, Sterlite is present on both Bombay Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange. Sterlite scrip rose 4.6 percent on the BSE on Friday to settle at Rs 879.10 in an overall bullish market.  While stating that Sterlite will have to contribute in terms of money and employment, the apex court asked it to keep aside 5 percent of its net profits from its mining activities all over the country or Rs 10 crore, whichever is higher, for tribals and shell out Rs 50.5 crore toward wildlife and Rs 12.5 crore toward tribal development.Besides, Sterlite should give details about the number of people to be given employment and at what positions, he said, adding that the state government will have to stick by the project in case Sterlite backed out.Coming down heavily on Vedanta, Justice Kapadia said its affidavit submitted on 2nd November failed to give details about the number of jobs to be provided to locals as most of its activities were to be outsourced.According to the court, it was the state’s duty to devise a coordinated programme to meet sustainable area development.The court passed the order after environment groups and wildlife enthusiasts challenged the plan, saying it would displace tribal people and destroy flora and fauna of the region – a charge that Vedanta has denied.Vedanta, which has put up a one million tonne bauxite refinery at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district, had sought permission to start mining in the forest area of 672.018 hectares in Niyamgiri region of Kalahandi and Rayagada districts of the state.The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) had opposed any mining activity by Vedanta in the virgin Niaymgiri hills and submitted that the government can instead allot alternative sites.

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