Posts filed under ‘Mining and Industrialization’

Vedanta University project gets environmental clearance from union ministry of environment and forests (MOEF)

Following is a report by IANS published in http://in.news.yahoo.com:

Bhubaneswar, April 17 (IANS) The Rs.150 billion Vedanta University project in Orissa by the Anil Agarwal foundation has got environmental and coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearances from the central government, a project spokesman said Saturday.

‘The union ministry of environment and forests (MOEF) has granted the environment and CRZ clearances to the Vedanta University project,’ Sasanka Patnaik told IANS.

‘We received the letter from the ministry today (Saturday),’ he said.

The Anil Agarwal foundation is promoted by NRI billionaire and chairman of Britain’s Vedanta Resources Anil Agarwal.

It has proposed to set up a multi-disciplinary Vedanta University over 6,000 acres of land near the Konark-Puri marine drive, some 60 km from here.

This not-for-profit university, being built on a global scale, has been envisaged as one-of-its-kind institution for quality higher education and cutting-edge research facility in 95 academic disciplines for 100,000 students.

April 17, 2010 at 4:57 pm Leave a comment

Mining scam of Orissa: Centre says CBI ready to probe

Following report is from The Pioneer:

The Centre on Thursday informed the Rajya Sabha that the Odisha Government was opposed to the CBI inquiry into the alleged mining scam. Giving reply to a question by MP Rudra Naryan Pany in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State Prithviraj Chavan on behalf of the Prime Minister said, “The State Government has opposed CBI inquiry into the alleged illegal mining on the grounds that the allegation is being inquired into by the State Vigilance Department and follow up action has been taken.”

He further said that CBI has filed the reply affidavits in the court that the CBI is ready to take up the investigation if ordered by the court to do so. “The matter is sub-judice now,” he maintained.

Chavan further informed that five public interest litigations have been filed in the High Court at Cuttack seeing CBI investigation into the allegations.

He further acknowledged the fact that references from the Ministry of Mines and the Ministry of Home Affairs were received forwarding therewith requests from several persons for independent investigations into the alleged mining scam.

The BJP and Congress in Odisha have alleged that there has been rampant looting of rich minerals and the corruption could touch to a whooping rupees three lakh crore. Both the parties have alleged that the State Government was apprehensive of handing over the case to the CBI fearing that its misdeed would be exposed.

April 17, 2010 at 7:33 am Leave a comment

Mahanadi turns poison basin at Sambalpur due to the indiscriminate pollution

Following is a report from The Pioneer:

The water sources in different parts of the town here, including the Mahanadi river, is getting unfit for human use in recent days due to the indiscriminate pollution and the prime cause behind is attributed to the sewage released into the Mahanadi at different points of the city here.

What adds to the woes is the scanty flow of water from the Hirakud Dam reservoir since the water level there also dips very fast in the summer, sources said.

Due to the restricted inflow from the Hirakud reservoir and the drain water of the town flowing into it, the bio-chemical oxygen demand in the Mahanadi has already reached an alarming stage and the water has become totally unfit for human use although it is the only alternative for thousands of people of Sambalpur town and downstream.

Situation has worsened to such a pass that, the Mahanadi water here has been classified as ‘D’ category by the Pollution Control Board while rest of the year it remains ‘C’.

“There have been long proposals to treat the sewerage water before discharging it to the Mahanadi at various points including Balibandha and Binakhandi, but the Municipality is hardly keen on this crucial issue,” informed State Pollution Control Board regional director SK Sahu, adding the summer turns to be the most crucial period of the year.

The other water bodies of the town, including ponds and wells, have been severely affected these days. The water looks ugly to open eyes and has turned green.

“People must be very much careful about using such water for bathing and all other purposes,” warns DHH dermatologist SS Mahapatra, adding they are sure to suffer many a skin ailment and water-born disease and even animal drinking such water also will suffer.

Although, Sambalpur houses many senior officials including the RDC, Collector, IG, no one seems to be serious on this crucial issue. Even the PCB, in a routine manner, just writes a letter to the Municipality authority with the onset of summer every year instead of initiating any legal actions, alleged a conscious citizen Bhawani Dixit.

It is high time the concerned authorities woke up to the occasion and clean Mahanadi for the larger interests of this historic town, locals demanded.

April 15, 2010 at 7:01 pm 1 comment

Have an extra holiday, says power-starved Orissa state government

Following is a report by IANS published in  http://www.thaindian.com:

Bhubaneswar, Feb 25 (IANS) Faced with an acute shortage of power, the Orissa government is planning to tell factory and office managements to take off for an extra day every week, an official said Thursday.

There is a severe drop in power production in Orissa mainly due to dip in water level in hydro-power units (reservoirs) following erratic rainfall last year. Though the state is trying to shore up the shortfall by sourcing power from captive power plants of private companies, technical snags have acted as deterrents.

“We used to source power from Sterlite Industries, Vedanta and Bhusan. But all three units have developed technical snags at the same time, hitting power production. Hence, we are not getting the 400-500 MW of power we used to get from them,” a senior official of the state energy department said.

To overcome the problem, the Orissa government is going to ask industries and business houses to have an extra holiday each week, the official said, adding that it would save about 200 MW of power every day.

“We are planning to implement power holiday in industries and big business houses once a week. It would save us electricity. The notification in this regard would be announced soon,” he said.

April 8, 2010 at 3:35 pm Leave a comment

Odisha mining scam; why CBI enquiry is necessary?

Following is a article from http://hindtoday.com written by Dr. Prasanna Mishra:

Many would recollect the incident more than two years ago when a few very renowned contractors of the state were arrested allegedly for hatching a conspiracy to liquidate someone. Many people talked of the diabolical plot that a conspiracy was being hatched in a well-known hotel of Bhubaneswar and the driver of a waiting vehicle near the hotel laid bare this sensational information on the basis of which these  wellknown,wealthy and influential persons were arrested. They were in jail for months before they could secure bail. The gullible ones in our society clapped and were appreciative of the objectivity of the government in upholding the majesty of law. They realised that the law was taking its course. What happened to the sensational case ultimately does not seem to be relevant to these people now. The short point I am trying to make here is to underline the criminal liability for conspiring to commit a crime. The government was so worried that the contractors were arrested so swiftly.

 Let us now see what is happening in case of the mining scam of mind-blowing proportion in our state. The state vigilance organisation is looking into the matter. A few officials who cannot be, because of their profession, as fleet-footed as Das Mohapatras and were poor sitting ducks were arrested. The expeditions of the vigilance organisation are being reported in the Press. Names roll out—Das Mohapatra, Patnaik, and now Rungta. Not a word about conspirators, the political heavyweights, without whose patronage loot of this magnitude would not be going on day in and out for years. Wealth of our motherland was being plundered and yet an enquiry would not pursue the conspirators! Are these elements more important to the present government than the wealth of our state? Can the state apparatus be independent enough to pin down the conspirators or the accomplices? The political persons who were in charge of the Mining Department continue without suffering any political punishment. The political persons who were in charge of Forest and Commercial Tax organisation also have not been affected. Administrative officials of these Departments do not seem to have been taken to task. Police officials also do not get any punishment. If these elements continue in their positions, and if the political patrons also continue to enjoy status, would it be possible for any state government agency to take any probe to its logical conclusion?

 Some of the firms being investigated or would be brought under investigation could have their head office not in Orissa. State vigilance organisation would be handicapped in gaining immediate access to those offices and important papers available there. Stolen minerals could have been exported and to get at the truth some exporters may have to be examined along with papers available with Railways; Ports; Customs authorities etc. Indian Bureau of Mines is the organisation of Government of India that has direct interface with mines for the working plans of every mine. If the mining plan for a mine was for extraction of, say, one lakh tonnes of iron ore in 2008-09 but actually the mine was exploited that year more intensively in view of a buoyant market and five lakh tonnes of iron ore was extracted, then the concerned officials of the Indian Bureau need to be examined to find out how this was allowed or ignored. Such irregularity also brings in the Directorate of Mines Safety. Very often reckless mining leads to accidents or generates conditions that endanger safety. Whether the concerned officials of the Directorate of Mine Safety performed their duty needs to be brought under scanner. On many occasions, additional mining operations would be possible by breaking forest areas. This cannot be done unless Government of India permits deforestation. This raises the role of the officials of Ministry of Forest and Environment.So far, administrative action in the nature of suspension has been taken against a few officials of the Mining Directorate. Only 2/3 junior functionaries of other departments have been suspended. The role of officials of Forest Department and Commercial Tax authorities; of the Pollution Control Board and of the Police need to be probed to find out their acts of omission and commission.

All these aspects need to be thoroughly probed to get at the truth. The magnitude and complexity of the loot seem well beyond the technical, professional and jurisdictional competence of the state vigilance machinery. More over, it is not a conventional case of theft of a few lakh of rupees from a Bank. What we are confronted with is a SCAM OF THE CENTURY, perpetrated for years, patronised by politically strong men and abetted by pliant officials. Let us not dilute the issue by initiating an inadequate enquiry. The entire matter should be handed over to the CBI for a thorough probe so that the perpetrators, whoever they are and howsoever high and mighty they are, are punished. Let majesty of law prevail. Let the just demand of the civil society be respected. The need of the hour is to rise above political gimmickry to unravel truth and punish the guilty.

April 6, 2010 at 6:38 pm 1 comment

Oppn ups ante against Naveen on land for Vedanta University:Aftermath of Lokpal Justice Patra’s report

Following is a report from http://economictimes.indiatimes.com:

BHUBNESWAR: Vedanta Group chairman Anil Agarwal is having harrowing time. His dream project, Vedanta University at Puri, is not only facing stiff

opposition from the locals, but also now mired in legal controversy following Lok Pal’s order the government for a vigilance probe if handing over of the Puri Jagannath temple land to the Anil Agarwal Foundation was in breach of law and whether any official had a role in it.

The opposition Congress on Monday accused chief minister Naveen Patnaik of favouring Vedanta Universiy by violating law of the land by handing over temple land without following due procedure. The party also demanded resignation of the chief minister and face an “impartial probe” into the handing over Jagannath temple trust land to the London-based Vedanta Resources which is setting up a university project at Puri.

Addressing a press conference here, senior Congress leaders Narasingha Mishra, Nalini Mohanty, L.B. Mohapatra, Niranjan Patnaik and Sibananda Ray said although an Assembly committee constituted by former Speaker Kishore Mohanty had estimated the cost of 1200 acres land given to Vedanta at Rs 80 crore, the company paid a pittance i.e only Rs 8 crore.

“The handing over of the Jaganath temple trust land to Vedanta smacks of a huge scam. The state law department had given adverse note on the transfer of land. But the chief minister office overlooked this for some obvious reasons,” they said, adding an impartial probe could unearth the scam.

Acting on a petition filed by Dwaraka Mohan Mishra, a trade union leader, the Lok Pal last week had asked the state government to submit a report within three months after complying with the recommendations given by him in this case. The Lok Pal has also recommended a moratorium on the project till the Anil Agarwal Foundation complies with the legal provisions pointed out by the Ministry of Company Affairs for conversion of its status from private to public company.

Legally the state government could acquire land for the Anil Agarwal Foundation if the Foundation was a public company. This has been the consistent view of the Law Department of Government of Orissa. The then Orissa chief secretary approved the proposal for land acquisition in the instant case on the 12th December 2006. Accordingly lands belonging to private persons as well as to Shri Jagannath Temple were gradually acquired. But no previous sanction of the state government was taken before acquiring the land belonging to Shri Jagannath Temple though previous sanction was mandatory as per Section 16 of Shri Jagannath Temple Act, 1954, which has embroiled Anil Agarwal Foundation into fresh trouble, officials said here.

Justice Patra has made it clear that if the Jaganath Temple Act and the Land Acquisition Act have not been complied with, no temple land could be handed over to the Foundation for the proposed University. Besides, he has recommended that the state government should work out a scheme for phase-wise delivery of land required for the university project. He also suggested that the vigilance cell should monitor the progress of the project and see that land is acquired and delivered in a phase-wise manner to the foundation so that it is not misused.

Justice Patra has asked the state government to ensure payment of adequate compensation by the Foundation to those affected by the project.

April 5, 2010 at 5:08 pm Leave a comment

Centre bans new projects in four most polluted clusters viz. Anugul-Talcher, Ib Valley, Jharsuguda and Paradip of Orissa

Following is a report from http://economictimes.indiatimes.com:

Industries will no more come up in four most polluted clusters viz. Anugul-Talcher, Ib Valley, Jharsuguda and Paradip with the centre  enforcing a ban recently in some 88 industrial towns in the country. No new project proposals will get approval in the next eight months and there will be a review of the approved projects .
 
The centre’s move comes in the wake of startling revelation by a survey of pollution conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) with the help of IIT, in the industrial belts of the country.
 
The Anugul – Talcher Industrial town in Orissa stands at seventh among the top 10 most polluted towns of the country and ahead of all other industrial towns in Orissa,
 
Ib Valley is placed at 28th while Jharsuguda in 33rd and Paradip in 44th Position.
 
The industrial pollution index reveals that the pollution magnitude in Anugul. Talchar records 82.09 while 74 in Ib Valley, 73.34 in Jharsuguda and 69.26 in Paradip.Anugul-Talchar Industrial town has recorded the magnitude of air pollution index at 64, water pollution index as 69 and land pollution index as 65.75.
 
In Ib Valley, the index of air, water and land pollution is 61, 56.5 and 59 ,in Jharsuguda it is 61, 56.5 and 56 , the air, water and land pollution index in Paradip.it is 54, 58.5 and 48 respectevely.
 
Absence of pollution control measures and inaction against the polluting companies are the basic reasons for the high industrial pollution.

January 16, 2010 at 12:06 pm Leave a comment

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