In a big blow to Vedanta Resources, the union government today refused to give environment clearance to its $1.7 billion bauxite mining project in Orissa.
Giving reasons for the decision, union minister of state for environment and forests Jairam Ramesh told reporters in New Delhi that "There has been a very serious violation of Environment Protection Act, Forest Conservation Act and the Forest Rights Act.
There have been no emotions and no politics and no prejudice involved in this report. I have taken this decision in a proper legal approach."
"Forest clearance for the project in the Niyamgiri Hills has been cancelled and there shall be penal action against Vedanta for violating laws. A notice has also been issued to the company for its alumina refinery in Lanjigarh, for increasing its capacity from 1 million to 6 million tonnes illegally."
This area in Western Orissa's Kalahandi district is home to the Dongria Kondh, a primitive tribal community, that has been objecting to Vedanta's plans to set up a bauxite mining project worth Rs5,000 crore.
The London-listed Vedanta is promoted by Anil Agarwal, and operates in India through its subsidiary Sterlite India.