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The London Stock Exchange listed Vedanta Resources has to wait for some more time to source bauxite from the Niyamgiri mines for its 1 million tonne alumina plant at Lanjigarh as the state government has decided to conduct a fresh survey of the forest area to settle the claims under Forest Right Act.
The state chief secretary, TK Mishra, has directed the district collectors of Kalahandi and Rayagada districts to verify afresh the presence of tribals or tribal community rights, if any, in the 660 acres forest land alienated for Vedanta’s bauxite mining project at the Niyamgiri hills.
“A special team of officials from forest & environment, revenue & disaster management and ST & SC welfare departments will visit the area and discuss with the members of the gram sabha,” said the chief secretary.
The district collectors of Kalahandi and Rayagada, in fact, have submitted a report to the state government that the 660 hectares forest land is free from occupation.
The state government’s directives has come in the wake of the four member Saxena Committee pointing out that the Forest Right Act has been violated while giving clearance to the mining rights. NC Saxena, who toured the Kalahandi and Rayagada district last week has gathered number of petitions from the tribals living or depending on the forest that has been given for mining. Saxena is the head of the four member team constituted by the Union ministry for Environment and Forest to study and give a report on the status of the Niyamgiri forest land that is going to be diverted for bauxite mining. Even though there are four members in the committee, Saxena alone visited the forest areas last week.
“We have studied the area during our visit and would submit a report by the end of this month,” said Saxena. Vedanta Alumina (VAL), a Vedanta Resources company, has put into operation its 1 million tonne refinery at Lanjigarh in September 2007. It is currently depending on buxites imported from Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.
According to VAL chief operating officer, Mukesh Kumar, the company is losing $90 on every tonne of alumina it produces, owing to high input cost.
The last week’s development is likely to further delay the linking of raw material to the Vedanta refinery.