New Delhi, Aug 23 : The Supreme Court today refused to accord an early hearing to Orissa government's plea challenging the Centre's decision to withdraw environmental clearance given to Vedanta group firm Sterlite for its bauxite mining project in Niyamgiri Hills.
Brushing aside the state government's plea for an early hearing to its objections to the Centre's move, a bench headed by Justice R V Raveendran fixed the matter for final hearing in January 2012.
Senior advocate K K Venogopal, appearing for the state government, pleaded that the matter be adjudicated early as the multinational company is withholding the amount to be invested for the development of tribal areas in light of uncertainty of the project.
He submitted that it had been planned to build schools and dispensaries in the tribal areas around the mining site, which the company had promised to fund. The bench however, refused to accord an early hearing. The court was hearing a petition filed by Orissa government and the Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) challenging the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) decision to revoke its forest clearance.
The Orissa 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”. The order “has been passed in a wholly arbitrary manner and “it was difficult to understand the need and urgency for issuing the present order of July 11 to withdraw the environmental clearance itself,” the OMC had said in its plea.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) withdrew the clearance a day before the Cabinet reshuffle, which had seen Jairam Ramesh moving to rural development ministry from Environment Ministry. PTI