The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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SC holds back Vedanta verdict

New Delhi, Sept. 8: Deferring its decision on permitting Vedanta Alumina Limited’s proposal to mine Orissa’s Niyamgiri forests, the Supreme Court has asked the Union ministry of environment and forests to submit a report on the ecological impact of bauxite mining in the region.

The court directed the government to specifically address the impact of such mining on the tribals of Koraput and Kalahandi districts, two of the poorest districts of Orissa. Several alumina producers, both private and state-owned Nalco, operate in the region.

Once the report, which has to be submitted within four weeks, is received, the court would lay down the rules for use of forestland bearing mineral deposits.

“We will set the parameters for use of forest areas bearing minerals…These can become the rule for all others,” the bench, headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, said.

It, however, refused to take a decision on whether to permit Vedanta Alumina Limited to set up a mining project saying: “We don’t want to go into specific projects.”

Vedanta has already completed its refinery plant in the area. It is waiting for permission to mine the nearby forests to source its plant.

That is stuck over objections raised by local environment activists and groups, which say the project would dislocate the tribals and disturb the region’s delicate ecology. Since then the court’s own panel has also spoken up against the project, but the court is yet to take a decision on it.

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