In a big blow to Vedanta bauxite mining refinery project in Orissa, the environment ministry’s Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) on Friday accepted the N.C. Saxena Committee report and left the final decision on the project to Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh.
The report, which was discussed at the meet, had citied many violations of the in-principle environment clearance given to Orissa Mining Corporation in 2008 including non-compliance with the provisions of the Forest Rights Act.
“The consent certificate of the gram sabha granted was fake,” the panel said in its report submitted to Ramesh on Monday. It also recommended rejection of approval to the project because of large scale violations.
Ministry sources said Ramesh, who will get the FAC recommendations on Saturday afternoon, will decide on the bauxite mining issue “soon”.
“This has been decided,” said a FAC member. “The committee examined all aspects of the report and prepared its view on that. The final shape to its views will be finalised on Saturday”.
According to sources the FAC, after deliberating on other issues listed on the agenda, discussed the Saxena report and the letter sent by P.N. Behara, principal secretary (Forest) Orissa to the ministry on Wednesday. “The letter was general in nature and failed to negate the recommendations of the committee,” a member said.
The report was discussed in light of Supreme Court’s order in 2008 giving conditional environment clearance to the mining project in Nyamgiri Hills and legal opinion favouring that the ministry can review the clearance.
Navi Mumbai airport
The Navi Mumbai airport is set for a long haul with the environment ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee on Friday asking the Maharashtra government to conduct environment impact assessment of all 17 alternative sites for the airport.
The state government will also have to minimise the project area for all 17 sites so that there is minimum impact on environment.