Union minister Srikant Jena on Monday asked the Odisha government to scrap the agreement between state-owned Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) and Vedanta Resources for bauxite mining and, if necessary, take control of Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL)'s refinery in Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district.
"This illegal mining agreement needs to be cancelled," Jena, union minister for statistics and programme implementation and chemical and fertiliser, told reporters.
Jena's demand followed the Odisha government's recent decision to cancel OMC's joint venture with Delhi based Sainik Mining and Allied Services Limited (SMASL) to develop a coal block in the state. Jena said the JV with SMASL was cancelled as it came under CBI scanner as the OMC had sold 74% stake to SMASL after getting a coal block in 2004.
The agreement with Vedanta for bauxite mining had also been done in a similar way, he said.
"Interestingly, VAL had already established its refinery before its agreement with Odisha government. So it is VAL's responsibility to arrange its bauxite," Jena said.
VAL, a subsidiary of London Stock Exchange listed multi-billion dollar Vedanta Resources, had told the Odisha government on September 6 that it wanted to temporarily shut down its alumina refinery at Lanjigarh, more than 500 km southwest of Bhubaneswar, within three months due to lack of bauxite.
Following the move by the company, Vedanta staff and some local people held a rally in the district headquarter Bhabanipatna. On Saturday, about 30 representatives of the staff and locals handed over a memorandum to chief minister Naveen Patnaik urging him to arrange bauxite for the plant.