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Activist holds Vedanta guilty of operating illegal fly ash pond

 

  Vedanta Resources, Sesa Sterlite, Jharsuguda, Odisha, India
Last updated 09 Apr 2016 09:39:45 +0530  
The Jharsuguda based plant of Sesa Sterlite Industries, a subsidiary of London Stock Exchange listed Vedanta Resources Plc., is again in news for using 246.74 acres of land encroached illegally by the company for its fly ash pond. And, what has been more shocking is the inaction from Odisha government’s Forest Department and Odisha Pollution Control Board.
 

The information that Sesa Sterlite Limited, a subsidiary of London Stock Exchange listed Vedanta Resources Plc., has illegally encroached upon 246 acres of forest land for the fly ash pond at its plant site in Odisha’s Jharsuguda in the eastern part of India has shocked activists working on environmental issues and the rights of indigenous communities.

To civil society bodies like Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO), this is in complete violation of the Forest Conservation Act 1980.

“This is unlawful and the company must be immediately punished for this criminal offence,” demanded Ranjan Panda, Convenor of the leading network on water and environmental issues Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO).

A statement issued by WIO came with facts that the ash pond has been built since 2009-2010. Even though local people have always complained about its illegality, the Forest Department is believed to have intervened in this matter in 2013 only.

“All these years, therefore, the illegal fly ash pond kept operating in connivance with the Forest Department,” Panda alleged.

“What surprises us more is that the Forest Department is said to have written only one letter requesting the company in this regard while they should have shut the fly ash pond by now,” Panda complained.

The role of the local administration and most importantly that of the Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) has also been dubious in this matter. “How can such an unlawful operation go without their support?” asked Panda adding, “All the concerned officials, who have deliberately let Vedanta continue with this illegal act, should also be questioned and punished in this case.”

 

Quotation starts

This case is another example of how the state government and its officials have been neglecting the health and well-being of the local people, forests, water bodies and rivers by allowing companies like the Vedanta to loot local resources, destroy the environment and flout laws of the land.

Quotation ends

 

This exposes the gross failure of Odisha government in putting check on illegal acts done by the company and force local people, rivers, water bodies and forest to suffer, WIO alleged.

This case is another example of how the state government and its officials have been neglecting the health and well-being of the local people, forests, water bodies and rivers by allowing companies like the Vedanta to loot local resources, destroy the environment and flout laws of the land.

“We urge upon the government of Odisha to effect an immediate closure of the illegal fly ash pond, free the forest land from the company’s clutches and punish all who are responsible for violating the laws in this case,” Panda said.

Claiming that it has been raising, since 2010, the blatant and open violations of environmental and other laws by Vedanta group of companies in that area, WIO appealed the Odisha government to not to allow any thermal power plant without first ensuring all the facilities for proper management of fly ash.

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