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     New Delhi, August 24, 2010: In a shock to BALCO owned VEDANTA, the Centre today rejected the Vedanta mining project in Orissa’s Niyamgiri Hills and was examining penal action against the Anil Agrawal led company.

     The Vedanta Resources has violated laws and the Niyamgiri Hills project cannot be given the go ahead unless the Forest Act is complied with, Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh told reporters here.

    “There has been a very serious violation of laws. There has been violation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, Environment Protection Act, 1966 and Forest Conservation Act, 1980. Therefore, the project cannot go ahead,” he added.

     A statement issued today says, “The stage II forest clearance for the Orissa Mining Corporation Ltd (OMC) and Sterlite bauxite mining project on Niyamgiri Hills in Lanjigarh, Kalahandi and Rayagada districts of Orissa cannot be granted. Stage II Forest Clearance therefore stands rejected. Since the forest clearance is being rejected, the environmental clearance for this mine is inoperable.”

    The Environment and Forest Minister informed that government is examining penal action against Vedanta and is also mulling to issue a show cause notice for illegal mining.

     A four member committee, set up by the Environment Ministry headed by N C Saxena, a National Advisory Council member early this year, investigated alleged violations of environmental laws and submitted its report last week, had also advised rejection of the mining project, saying it would endanger the survival of tribals living in the project area.

     Further commenting on the Korean company POSCO’s steel plant in Orissa, Ramesh said that the government has asked Gupta panel to submit its report by September-end. He also added that it is unfair to compare Vedanta with POSCO projects.

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