Vedanta refinery expansion hits green roadblock
The ministry is all set to tell the company that its ongoing six-fold expansion of the refinery — from an annual capacity of 1 million tonnes to 6 million tonnes — cannot be allowed because the required environmental clearances had not been obtained. The existing operating facility of 1 million tonne itself violates forest laws and needs corrective action, ministry officials claimed.
Incidentally, the refinery and the bauxite mining project at Niyamgiri hills were originally part of the same integrated project. The bauxite mined from Niyamgiri was to be processed at the refinery. While the mining project was embroiled in environmental trouble – which was ultimately blocked in August – a standalone clearance was given to the refinery to be operated at an annual capacity of 1 million tonne and with bauxite imported from other mines.
The refinery is operating at full capacity since 2007 with support of a 75 mw captive power plant. The bauxite is shipped from Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu among other states. The same year, the company applied for environmental clearance for the six-fold expansion of both the refinery and the captive power plant. But even as the application was being processed, the company started construction work on the expansion
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