High Court Challenges MOU with Vedanta Alumina
Press Trust of India
November 19, 2004

Cuttack, Nov. 19 : The Orissa High Court has issued notice to state government on a PIL challenging the validity of an MOU between state-owned Orissa Mining Corporation and private sector Vedanta Alumina Ltd for a joint venture for bauxite mining in Kalahandi district.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Sujit Burman Roy and Justice Laxmikanta Mohapatra yesterday asked the state government to file its reply within two weeks with details about the deal.

The PIL was filed by a Bhawanipatna-based lawyer alleging that norms of the forest conservation act had been violated by the company. It also violated the apex court's directions on leasing tribal dominated mining areas to non-tribal people.

The petition further pointed out that the proposed alumina plant to be set up in Lanjigarh would destroy the environment and affect the ecological balance of the area. It urged the court to issue direction for a thorough probe into the deal.

The MOU had kicked-off a political storm in the state as the opposition demanded cancellation of the agreement and a CBI inquiry into the whole issue.

A large number of opposition legislators had also sent a petition to the President earlier this month alleging that the private company had began construction work by clearing forests though the Centre was yet to give forest and environmental clearance for the project.

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