The Environment Ministry has revoked environment clearance to iron ore mine of Sesa Goa, a subsidiary of billionaire Anil Aggarwal owned London based Vedanta Resources, on the ground of concealment of vital facts necessary to study impact of mining on local ecology.
It is the first major cancellation of environment clearance for a project by minister Jayanthi Natarajan and comes at the time when Goa chief minister Digambar Kamat is under attack for alleged illegal mining scam in the state.
The ministry on Wednesday informed the National Green Tribunal (NGT) about the decision saying the clearance for two million per annum iron ore mine of the company in north Goa in 2009 was granted on basis of deficient Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report.
The EIA report -- basis for appraising projects for environment clearance -- failed to mention presence of river Chapora, forests, requirement to divert a road and presence of wildlife such as elephants, bison and peacocks close to project area. The report had said that Indian rat, common mouse, mangoose and rhesus were found in the project area and there were no classified forests.
“The project proponent and the EIA Consultant deliberately did not mention the presence of schedule species in the EIA so as to undermine the ecological value of the area,” Pirna Naroda Nagrik Kruti Samiti said in its petition with the NGT.
The ministry had overlooked the deficiencies pointed out by Samiti and objections of the state forest and agriculture departments in the site inspection conducted in 2010. It was, however, left with no option when the company admitted of the deficiencies in the EIA report at the last NGT hearing and requested report’s withdrawal.
The NGT asked the ministry to take a decision on Sesa Goa’s admission in the court. The ministry said it was a fit cast for invoking section 8 of the EIA notification of 2006, which stipulates providing of false, misleading or deliberate concealment of facts as ground for rejecting environment clearance application. It filed its order canceling the clearance to NGT on Wednesday.
Vedanta Resources, which owns Sesa Goa, did not comment on the development but its counsel in the court said they would appeal against the decision. Ministry officials said that another option with the company was to file a fresh application for environment clearance on basis of a new EIA report.
Chronology of events
Environment ministry in 2009 gave approval to 2 million tonne of iron ore mine in north Goa.
In 2009, the National Environment Appellate Authority stayed the approval and asked the ministry to conduct site inspection. The site inspection was done in 2010.
The case was transferred to National Green Tribunal when it was constituted in 2010.
In August 2011, Sesa Goa admitted of deficiency in the EIA report and sought its withdrawal.
NGT asked ministry to decided, which cancelled the clearance. The announcement was made in NGT on Wednesday.