Crying "discrimination", the Anil Agarwal-promoted Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (VAL) wants to initiate a fresh dialogue with the environment ministry to arrive at a solution enabling the expansion of its aluminum refinery in Orissa.
Vedanta has claimed the ministry discriminated against it by not clearing its Lanjigarh project, while the Jindal Power and Lavasa projects got the green signal.
"As in our opinion, it was a case of discrimination, we had filed a review petition before the Orissa High Court for reconsideration of our expansion project at Lanjigarh in line with the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) circular dated November 16, 2010, under which similar cases of the Jindal Power Ltd and Lavasa projects have been duly considered," VAL President and CEO Mukesh Kumar told Business Standard.
The November 16, 2010 office memorandum deals with the consideration of proposals involving the violation of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 or the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006 or the CRZ Notification of 1991.
The Orissa High Court last week declined to review the Vedanta petition, as in its opinion the said memorandum lacked the authority of a legal statute.
"If the office memorandum has no legal statute, it is to be seen whether the environmental clearances given to Jindal, Lavasa and others under the same circular are also going to be withdrawn by the MoEF," said another Vedanta official, who did not wish to be named.
Both Jindal Power Ltd and Lavasa Corporation (a unit of Ajit Gulabchand's Hindustan Construction Company [ Get Quote ]) declin-ed to comment on the matter. Environment Minister Jayanti Natarajan could not be reached for comment in repeated attem-pts. However, a senior ministry official said there was no discrimination against Vedanta.
The Orissa High Court on July 19, 2011 had rejected Vedanta's plea for sixfold expansion of its alumina refinery at Lanjigarh, upholding the MoEF decision. Later, the company filed a review petition before the court, seeking reconsideration of the order.
That review petition was rejected last week by a division bench of Chief Justice V Gopala Gowda and Justice B N Mohapatra.
VAL had proposed to expand its million-tonne alumina refinery to six million tonne and enhance the capacity of its captive power plant from the existing 75 Mw to 300 Mw.
It had applied for the expansion plan in August 2007 but went ahead with construction work pending the environmental clearance. The MoEF ordered the expansion work halted in October 2010.