Group pro-tribals; will look into complaints: Vedanta chief

Mumbai, Oct 12 (PTI) Over a month after its about USD 1.7 billion mining project in Orissa was rejected on charges of violation of environmental norms, Vedanta Resources today said the group is pro-tribals and will look into "complaints".
Environment Ministry had in August rejected all earlier clearances given to the metal and mining group to mine bauxite from environmentally sensitive Niyamgiri area in Orissa which also said to be home to tribals like Dongria Kondha.
The Congress General Secretary, Rahul Gandhi, had also termed the proposed project "illegal".
"Rahul Gandhi said I am not against development. But tribals should be given their rightful ... I am also for tribals. We have to protect tribals. We have no tribals in our area. But if there are complaints they have to be looked into properly," Vedanta Resources Chairman Anil Agarwal told PTI in an interview.
"There is a misconception that we are doing mining (at Niyamgiri). Not a blade has moved. I am buying bauxite (from Orissa Mining Corporation)," he added.
Vedanta Group firm Sterlite Industries had form a JV company with state PSU Orissa Mining Corporation in 2004 for mining bauxite from the region. The JV company, in which Sterlite had majority stake, was also given conditional nod by a special bench of the Supreme Court in 2008 for the project.
The Environment Ministry, however, cancelled clearances to the group after a three-member committee commissioned by it found human rights and green norms'' violations by Vedanta Group.
The ministry had also issued show-cause notice to the group asking as to why action should not be taken against the group for going ahead with expansion of its alumina refinery in the region without getting requisite clearances.
Vedanta has maintained that it has violated no laws and sought bauxite from the state government as per the supply agreement to feed its refinery.
"Govt should give us bauxite," he said. Vedanta Group says that OMC, as per the MoU, has to supply 150 million tonnes of bauxite to it.
Asked if the group will apply for mining leases on its own, in face of the Centre considering tightening noose on such "back-door" mining pacts, he said, "I am OK with everything. Whether it is through government agency or directly."
"Aluminium is fundamental for growth. China produces 20 million tonnes of aluminium. India produces 1.5 million tonnes. But, China doesn''t have any bauxite and we have all the resource," he added.
On allocation of alternate mines in Orissa to run its aluminium projects in Orissa, he indicated, the process may take some time. "It will be a complete new process. State government has to approve (the new site), the central government (will look into it)," he said.