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Green light for Vedanta refinery

Kausik Datta  |  Mumbai 

The Vedanta group's Rs 3,600-crore alumina refinery in Orissa's Kalahandi district is likely to clear the final hurdle soon.
Sources close to the development said a panel appointed by the Supreme Court gave its approval to the project in October. The apex court had set up the panel following opposition by environmental groups.
The Anil Agarwal-controlled company had signed an agreement with the Orissa government in 2004 to set up an alumina refinery in bauxite-rich Lanjigarh of Kalahandi, one of the poorest areas in the country and home to the primitive tribe Dongaria Kondh.
Vedanta got the mining rights to bauxite required for the alumina refinery, which was opposed by environmentalist groups and tribals.
The activists opposed the project on the grounds that mining in the Niyamgiri hills would displace thousands of tribals and harm the fragile eco-system of the region. The refinery project is dependent on the availability of 3 million tonnes of bauxite from the densely forested Niyamgiri hills.
The issue went to the Supreme Court, which appointed a committee to find out the impact of the mining project on the local tribes and the ecology.
Meanwhile, the Foundation has signed an agreement with the Orissa government to set up a multi-disciplinary university in Orissa's Puri district.
The Vedanta University will be set up on over 8,000 acres near the Konark-Puri Marine Drive with an investment of Rs 15,000 crore in phases.