Bhubaneswar, Sep 18: Social activist Prafulla Samantara Tuesday demanded scrapping of the Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) refinery in Odisha, accusing the company of pushing it illegally.
“The refinery should be dismantled and all temporary or permanent workers should be compensated immediately,” said Samantara, who is one of the petitioners against the Vedanta project in the Supreme Court.
Accusing the company of “misleading the public” on the shortage of bauxite at the refinery, he said the supply of bauxite to the plant is not the responsibility of the state and the people.
“The plant should have been dismantled long ago because it was built in violations. But because of obvious reasons, it is continuing till date,” he said.
Referring to VAL president Mukesh Kumar’s notice to the state government earlier this month that it would shut down the refinery Dec 5 as it was running in losses, the activist said: “We have reports that Vedanta is making profit in Lanjigarh.”
“A loss-making company can’t make a contribution of Rs.280 million to political parties,” he said, citing media reports.
Describing recent rallies and demonstrations in favour of the plant “company engineered”, he said it is clearly intended to influence the proceedings of the Supreme Court.
“This should be taken as case of interference with the proceedings of a court,” he said.
Set up at an investment of $800 million, the VAL plant requires three lakh tonnes of bauxite per month to run the alumina refinery at full capacity.
However, due to bauxite shortage, the company has been running the one million tonne per annum refinery at 40-50 percent of its capacity for the past several weeks.
Kumar had Sep 6 informed the state government that the refinery would be shut down temporarily as getting bauxite from different states was not possible.
Vedanta wants VAL to mine bauxite from Niyamgiri Hills near its refinery, but environmental and other clearances for this have been mired in litigation and protests.
VAL has sought bauxite from several other reserves in the state, but none of them have materialised.