Vedanta's refinery expansion gets villagers support

Bhubaneswar, Vedanta's plan to expand six-fold the capacity of its one-million-tonne per annum alumina refinery in Odisha got a boost Wednesday when a majority of the local villagers supported it, an official said.

The state pollution control board successfully conducted a public hearing near Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district, about 600 km from Bhubaneswar.

Majority of the 1,500 to 2,000 people of nearby villages who participated in the public hearing supported the project, and said they have no objection to the expansion, district collector Bijaya Ketan Upadhyaya told IANS.

He said the local authorities will send the proceedings of the public hearing to the state government which will forward it to the central government for final approval.

The union environment ministry had in August 2010 issued show-cause notice to the company under the Environment Protection Act for undertaking construction without prior clearance under the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006.

After examining the company's response on the matter, the ministry in October 2010 cancelled the terms of reference issued in 2009.

The ministry then directed the company to maintain status quo at the site and asked it to ensure that no further construction was undertaken for expansion of the project.

The ministry asked the company to furnish a fresh proposal to obtain environmental clearance for the proposed expansion.

The public hearing was held following the ministry's direction on fresh application submitted by the company.

A company spokesman said the development demonstrated that the villagers want the plant in their region.

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