NEW DELHI/BHUBANESWAR: The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to expedite its hearing of Odisha Government’s appeal against the Centre’s decision to withdraw its environmental clearance to Vedanta group firm Sterlite for its bauxite mining project in the Niyamgiri Hills.
A special forest Bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and C K Prasad said it would take up the matter for final disposal before the ensuing summer vacation. Senior counsel for the State K K Venugopal submitted that the “investment and rehabilitation measures was being affected” on account of the Centre’s act of withdrawing the clearance.
He alleged that the decision to withdraw the clearance was done by the Centre in an arbitrary manner. He submitted that the order was passed a day before the then Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh was shifted to the Rural Development Ministry in July last year.
The apex court, in August last year, had refused to accord any early hearing on the matter but had posted the appeal for final disposal in January this year. Venugopal pleaded that the matter be adjudicated at the earliest as the multinational company is withholding the amount to be invested for the development of tribal areas in the light of uncertainty of the project.
The court was hearing a petition filed by the State Government and the Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) challenging the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) decision to revoke its forest clearance to the project. The State Government had moved the apex court on August 1 against the Centre’s move accusing it of withdrawing the environmental clearance in an “arbitrary manner”.