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Issue 24
, 2010
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Vedanta flouted forest conservation norms, says report

Source: The Hindu, New Delhi, Mar 13, 2010, Date: , 2010

Vedanta Aluminium has violated forest conservation guidelines and failed to follow the Forest Rights Act in letter and in spirit at a proposed bauxite mine project in the Niyamgiri Hills of Orissa, according to a report submitted by a three-member team to the Union Environment and Forests Ministry. Following allegations about the project earlier this year, the Ministry constituted the team with a forestry official, a former government wildlife official and an independent sociology expert to inspect the site and speak to all stakeholders. Its report was considered by the Ministry's Forest Advisory Committee on Friday, and the Orissa government asked to provide an explanation for the violations, according to Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests. The company built an incomplete mine access road passing through both forest and non-forest areas and constructed 47 pillars for a conveyor corridor before receiving clearance, in violation of the Forest Conservation Act guidelines, according to a site inspection by J.K. Tewari, Chief Conservator of Forests. As for wildlife, Vinod Rishi, former Additional Director-General of the Wildlife Institute of India, has said the Niyamgiri ecosystem would recover if no further diversion of forest land for mining is allowed. She also documents cases of repression of public opinion and dissent by both the company and local authorities and reports of pollution by Vedanta's nearby refinery.