In the following excerpts from a report in Business Standard Haridaspur-Paradip and Talcher-Bimlagarh are listed as strategic projects. I hope they are fast tracked.
… Delays in land acquisition and forest clearances continue to stand in the way of completing strategic projects like the 82-km Haridaspur-Paradip line and the 154-km link between Talcher and Bimlagarh, both in Orissa. While the first project is to give good port access to units in the steel hub of Kalinganagar, the second is designed to step up evacuation of coal from mines at Angul and Talcher.
…This is why India, endowed with the world’s fifth largest bauxite deposits and the fourth largest coal reserves, has emerged as a preferred place for making aluminium. Within the country, Orissa is where every aluminium maker wants a presence. That is why the Vedanta group, in spite of being solidly anchored in Chhattisgarh, thanks to its 50 per cent ownership of Balco, with capacity of 345,000 tonnes and then giving shape to a 650,000-tonne smelter there, wants to create alumina capacity of five mt and smelting capacity of 1.6 mt in Orissa, with adequate upstream integration in bauxite mining and coal-based power.
Unfortunately, Vedanta is not able to realise what it has set out to do in Orissa, as it fell foul of pressure groups such as Amnesty International and Survival International and also of the ministry of environment and forests. The Niyamgiri Hills, from where Vedanta’s refinery is to draw bauxite, is considered sacred by Dongria Kondh tribesmen. But why should the company be stopped to take out bauxite from there if it is ready to resettle the displaced people and practise environment-friendly mining?
As a result of the impasse, Vedanta is required to source bauxite from outside, totally upsetting the considerations for hosting a refinery at nearby Lanjigarh. The denial of mining at Niyamgiri is setting a bad precedent for the mining sector. Redemption for Vedanta would hopefully come, with the Orissa government committed to offering alternative bauxite deposits.
There are some recent news on Vedanta’s expansion in Lanjigarh. But the news are confusing. Following is an excerpt from a September 17th report in Times of India.
Vedanta has suffered another setback in its fight-back to expand the aluminium refinery in Orissa after the Union environment ministry had struck down its environment clearance for violations.
The Cuttack bench of the Orissa High Court backed the environment ministry and ordered that Vedanta would have to apply afresh for a clearance for expansion if it wants to.
Following is an excerpt from a September 19th report in ndtv.com.
The ministry of environment and forests has cleared Vedanta Aluminium’s project in Lanjigarh, Orissa.
The expansion of Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta Aluminium’s four million tonne Lanjigarh refinery plant in Kalahandi had been put on hold by the Union Environment Ministry on October 21, 2010.
… Environment ministry’s expert appraisal committee (EAC) has cleared the project with 70 conditions, sources told NDTV. Major conditions among them are: Five per cent of the total project cost would be spent on social welfare projects.The company will maintain air, water quality & develop 164 hectare of plant area as green belt.
Others conditions say that the company will also submit rehabilitation and resettlement policy covering tribals, which should be in line with government policies. The company will also be required to submit corporate environment policy approved by its board.