Govt drops land acquisition plan for #Vedanta steel project #goodnews


BS Reporter / Kolkata/ Bhubaneswar Dec 27, 2012, 00:07 IST

The Odisha government has approved a proposal for withdrawal of land acquisition process for Sterlite Iron and Steel Company, a Vedanta group firm, which proposed to set up of a 5 million tonne steel plant in Keonjhar district.

The government has directed the revenue department to take appropriate action in this regard. “The government, after careful consideration, has been pleased to accept the land surrender proposal. You are therefore, requested to take action as per rules/act in vogue,” the state steel and mines department wrote to the deputy revenue secretary.

The decision of not to go ahead with the land acquisition process for the project was taken in October this year, following state water department’s objection to the sale of land.

The water resource department said, since more than 90 per cent of the 1,872 acre area required for the project came under the category of irrigated farm land, it should not be given to an industrial unit.

The villages, where notification for land acquisition was issued, included Danardanpur, Gopinathpur, Narasingpur, Singraisuan, Tikarpada, Mahadeijoda and Kadagarh in Keonjhar district. Out of the total area to be acquired, 1,805 acres were privately held.

The state government has offered an alternative site to the company in Sundergarh district. However, the company has been non-commital over establishment of the project.

Sterlite Iron and Steel Company had signed a MoU with the state government for the project in 2004. The proposed five million tonne per annum steel plant was to be set up at a cost of Rs 12,500 crore. However, the project hardly showed any sign of progress since.

Later, Vedanta wanted the project to be implemented by its group firm Sesa Goaand wrote to the state government to replace Sterlite Iron and Steel Company with Sesa Goa as the promoter in the MoU. It had also changed the scope of the project expressing its intention to set up a 1.5 million tonne steel plant initially instead of 5 million tonne mentioned in the MoU.

The company was also in the process of scouting for a steel company as an equity partner for the project who could take charge of the steel making operation of the plant.

Now, the withdrawal of the land acquisition process for the steel project comes as another blow to the industrial group which is reeling under the closure of alumina refinery of Vedanta Aluminium at Lanjigarh in the state for want of bauxite.

The state government is yet to come out with a solution on supplying bauxite to the plant. Though the state government had committed to provide bauxite from Niyamgiri mines, it could do not do so because of non-availability of clearances from union ministry of environment and forest (MoEF).

 

Orissa imposes penalty on ‘errant miners’



Debabrata Mohanty : New Delhi, Fri Nov 02 2012, 00:35 hrs

After Karnataka and Goa, Orissa has emerged as the third state to crack down on alleged cases of mining irregularities. With the MB Shah Commission now looking into multi-crore mining scam in the state, the Orissa steel and mines department has slapped a penalty of Rs 23,904 crore on 27 miners in just one mining circle of the mineral-rich Keonjhar district for extraction of ore beyond the permissible limits.

Among those who have been slapped with the penalty notices are Tata Steel, Aditya Birla-owned Essel Mining and the state-owned Orissa Mining Corporation.

The deputy director of Joda mining circle, Ballabh Nayak said the Tata Steel is the biggest violator among all leaseholders and has been asked to pay Rs 6,265 crore. Others who have been charged are Essel Mining (Rs 4,530 crore), RP Sao (Rs 3,872 crore), Sarada Mines (Rs 2,845 crore), KJS Ahluwalia (Rs 2,022 crore), Serajuddin & Co (Rs 1,983 crore).

The penalty would be recovered within 30 days of the notice issued by the mines department. The companies would also have to pay simple interest at the rate of 24 per cent per annum on the sum towards the price until they fully pay the price of the minerals. Officials said after Joda, such penalty amounts would be raised in other mining circles of the state.

There was no reaction from any of the leaseholders about the penalities imposed on them, but a senior mines department official said the order would “not be tenable”. “It would be challenged in court as previously such orders have not passed muster,” he said.

After being accused of “inaction” for last 3 years after the mining scam broke way back in 2009, the steel and mines department in July this year had first issued notices to 190 companies, seeking the value of the ore extracted over and above the permissible limit.

 

#India-Keonjhar tribals up in arms over #mining plans in Khandadhar #Vedanta #Posco


TNN | Oct 30, 2012

KEONJHAR: Fear of displacement stalks tribals inhabiting Banspal block of Keonjhar district abutting the beautiful Khandadhar waterfall with hundreds of companies, including South Korean steel behemoth Posco, applying for lease to mine the Khandadhar hill. A Niyamgiri-type agitation (against Vedanta in Lanjigarh) is already on in the area.

Sources said only two mines, owned by Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC), are operating in Malangtoli region near the hill as of now. Posco has applied for mining lease (ML) over an area close to the waterfall. The hill is about 65 km from Keonjhar. On the opposite side of the hill there is another waterfall by the same name in Banei sub-division of Sundergarh district, where too tribals are protesting against the proposed mining activities.

According to the information obtained from mining department through an RTI query, about 219 prospecting licence (PL) applications are pending with it. Companies and individuals have applied for lease over 1,31,406.8881 hectare of land in 52 villages. Similarly, about 237 ML applications on 1,43,895.2357 hectare are pending with the department. According to the department, no ML has been granted to any company as yet. “Only eight companies have been granted PL in the vicinity of Khandadhar hill,” said Keonjhar mining officer D K Parija.

Surrounded by dense forests, the area is known as the ‘rice bowl’ of tribals, mostly Bhuyans, as they depend on it for their livelihood. They have united under the banners of Khandadhara Surakshya Mancha and Lok Sangathan and have been fighting to save the forest and their livelihood.

“We depend on the forest for our livelihood for over six months a year. Medicinal plants, streams, wildlife, a temple and the beautiful waterfall will be destroyed if mining is allowed here,” said Radhakant Dehury, a Bhuyan tribal of Kadakala area. Mining will not only lead to heavy pollution but also damage the Shiva temple, worshipped by thousands of locals, he said.

 

Tribal language teachers go without salary for 8 months #Indiashining


, TNN | Aug 3, 2012,
KEONJHAR: Tribal language teachers inKeonjhar district have not received their salary for the last eight months. They have brought the matter to the notice of the district collector on a number of occasions, but no action has been taken so far, the teachers said.

Brundaban Juang, a teacher, said, “We got salary from June to October 2011. After that, we have not got any payment for eight months. We belong to poor tribal families. We are living in extreme distress.”

According to sources, the government appointed tribal language teachers in schools run bySC/ST department with a view to developing the languages and bringing down the number of school drop outs among tribals.

According to a state government decision, the district administration had published advertisements for the post of language teachers in different tribal languages like Juang, Oram,Santhal and Munda. On the basis of that, 16 teachers were appointed.

U K Naik of the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) of Keonjhar said, “Salaries of the language teachers have not been paid because the government has not sanctioned money.”

“The government is spending huge amount of money for the development of tribals, mostly their education. But it is astonishing that tribal language teachers are not getting salary. The government should take immediate corrective measures,” said Girija Mishra, the secretary of Keonjhar bar association.