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HC reserves verdict on Vedanta expansion bid plea

india Updated: Mar 01, 2011 15:53 IST

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The Orissa High Court has completed hearing on Vedanta Aluminum Limited's plea seeking to quash the Centre's notification on stalling expansion of its refinery and the captive plant at Lanjigarh.

A Division Bench of the court comprising chief justice V Gopal Gowda and Justice B N Mohapatra after hearing both the parties as well as the state government, had yesterday reserved its verdict.

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had justified its October 20, 2010 order stalling the expansion of the refinery, saying the company should furnish fresh proposals to obtain environmental clearance for its expansion bid.

The company in August 2007 had applied for expansion of the capacity of its Lanjigarh-based existing refinery from 1 MTPA to 6 MTPA and that of the captive power plant from 75 to 300 MW.

But pending an environmental clearance, the company went ahead with the construction work for undertaking a six-fold increase in refinery capacity, besides four-fold expansion of the power plant.

Exercising powers under Environment (Protection) Act-1986 and Rules thereof, the MoEF in October last year had ordered the company to maintain status quo at the plant site and also withdrew the Terms of Reference (ToR) issued to the Company in March 2009 for expansion.

Contending that it had not violated the Environment Impact Assessment notification of 2006 and it is treated in a biased manner by the Union government, Vedanta had argued in Orissa High Court that it will willing to proceed in terms of the Centre’s November 16, 2010 memorandum, which had spelt out to condone the violations of erring companies.

Stating that they have applied to the ministry in response to the November memorandum, VAL alleged that the Centre is taking "diametrically opposite" views to its application in a "discriminating and arbitrary" manner in comparison to other applicants.