Orissa Chief Minister Admits Vedanta's Illegal Activities
Statesman News Service
August 1, 2005

Bhubaneshwar ó Thirty Five trees have been illegally felled by the Vedanta Alumina Limited on "gramya jungle jogya" (village forest) land in Lanjigarh tahsil of Kalahandi district.

The chief minister Mr Navin Patnaik conceded that the company had illegally encroached over 4.21 hectares of village forest land.

Four encroachment cases have been booked against the company and a fine of Rs 11,471 had been collected from the company for illegal breaking of village forest land, he said while replying to a question asked by Congress member, Mr Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra.

The lanjigarh tahsildar had booked four encroachment cases against the company and realised a penalty of Rs 11,471 under the Orissa Prevention of Land Encroachment Act, 1972. The divisional forest officer, Kalahandi (South division) has also registered a forest offence case against the Company under section 37 of Orissa Forest Conservation Act, 1972 which had been forwarded to the court of sub divisional judicial magistrate for trial.

Few Opposition members including, deputy leader of the Congress and former law minister, Mr Narasinga Mishra were not satisfied with the chief ministerís reply and wanted to know as to why the Vedanta authorities were not arrested under section 379 of the IPC for encroaching the forest land. They alleged that the government was deliberately shielding the company authorities who were guilty of illegal felling of trees and encroachment of village forest land.

The chief minister laid the affidavits filed by the state government before the Central Empowered committee of Supreme Court. However, the chief minister refused to table the affidavits of the Vedanta Alumina, stating that it would not be appropriate to place these affidavits on the floor of the Assembly.

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