Vedanta Faces Hurdle in Environmental Clearance for Controversial Steel Plant in Jharkhand

Reported by

Sushmita

Published on

March 8, 2021

March 8, 2021

Updated on

March 8, 2021

Location of Conflict

Bhagaband

Siyaljori, Budhibinor, Alkusa, Dhandabar, Bandhdih and Hutu Pathar villages

Bokaro

This is a Left Wing Extremism Affected District

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Steel Plant

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

1500

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

890

ha

Starting Year

2008

State

Jharkhand

Sector

Industry

In 2008, Electrosteel Steels Limited (ESL) constructed a steel plant in Bokaro after receiving an environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC). The forest department claimed the construction was an encroachment of forestland in violation of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. ESL reportedly deceived thousands of marginal farmers by misinforming them about the purpose of acquisition and not taking their consent. It was reported that the companys middlemen purchased land at INR 70,00080,000 per acre, which was onetenth of the governments stipulated industry price at that time. As compensation, the farmers demanded jobs at the plant, but ESL employed only a few of them. When the farmers protested, the company, in collusion with local officials, pressed false charges against hundreds of them. Between March 2009 and March 2016, the forest department filed 53 cases against the company on this issue. A Supreme Courtappointed centrally empowered committee took stock of the situation and asked Jharkhands chief secretary on July 15, 2010, to act immediately, but no action was taken. In October 2014, over 500 local residents, including farmers, gheraoed the steel plant and demanded employment for those who were displaced by the plant. They alleged that the company had agreed to hire about 2,000 land losers as contractual labourers but failed to keep its end of the bargain. Another report mentioned other challenges that the steel plant would pose, including loss of livelihood, displacement, groundwater pollution and crop damage, among others. According to a May 2017 site inspection report, ESL had sought environmental clearance (EC) in 20062007 for a site in Parbatpur; however, the report found that the actual site was located in Bhagaband, five kilometers away from the proposed area, implying that ESL had made misrepresentations to obtain the clearance. In 2018, Vedanta took over ESL and announced that there would be a new plant in the same location. The estimated investment was approximately US $34 billion for a capacity of 4.5 million tonnes annually. Following the acquisition, ESL applied for fresh forest and environmental clearances. In a meeting of the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) responsible for granting EC to development projects it was confirmed that ESL had violated provisions of the Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006. The EAC recommended issuing standard Terms of Reference to the project and directed the state government and the State Pollution Control Board to take action against the project proponent under the provisions of Section 19 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The committee also ordered that ESL should not be granted consent to operate till the project is given an EC. In December 2019, the MoEFCC regularised the encroachment and gave inprinciple forest clearance to 174 hectares of forestland that was reportedly encroached by ESL. A public hearing for the project was organised in December 2020 in the presence of villagers residing close to the steel plant. While the CEO of Chas Municipal Corporation, who chaired the hearing, maintained that the hearing was successful and villagers had given their consent to the plant, people protested outside the plant premises, alleging that the hearing was conducted without informing the public at large.  

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Complaint against procedural violations

Demand for rehabilitation

Opposition against environmental degradation

Demand for promised compensation

Demand for employment

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Both

Type of Common Land

Forest, Forest and Non-Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

2974

Type of investment:

Revised Investment

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Forest and Scheduled Area Governance Laws, Environmental Laws, Land Acquisition Laws

Legislations/Policies Involved

Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013
Section 25 [Compensation award by District Collector must be made within 12 months from the date of publication of declaration]; Section 26 [This section lays down the criteria for assessment and determination of market value of land by District Collector]; Section 27 [This section determines the amount of compensation]; Section 28 [This section lays down parameters to be considered by District Collector to determine the compensation]; Section 31(1) [This section mentions the rehabilitation and resettlement award for affected families by District Collector]; Second Schedule Point 4 [Farmers have claimed that they have not been given the jobs they were promised under this section]
Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006
Section 3(2)(iv) [This section empowers the Union government to take any measures necessary for protecting the environment. It is under this section that it can lay down standards for emission or discharge of environmental pollutants from various sources]; Section 5 [Power to give directions for closure of industry]; Section 19 [Cognizance of any offence]; Paragraph 7 of the EIA Notification [This lists the stages in the prior environmental clearance process for new projects]
Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
Section 2 [Restriction on the de-reservation of forests or use of forestland for non-forest purpose]
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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community? What was the decision of the concerned government department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Non-implementation/violation of FRA

Violation of free prior informed consent

Non-implementation/violation of LARR Act

Incorrect estimation of compensation

Violation of environmental laws

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Pending

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

High Court of Jharkhand

Case Number

W.P. (C) No. 1873 of 2018 With I.A. No. 4608 of 2020

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Displacement

Judicial harassment

Arrest/detention/imprisonment

Whether criminal law was used against protestors

Reported Details of the Violation:

Police arrested 250 protesting farmers and an MLA for 12 hours. Also, when the farmers protested, the company, in collusion with local officials, pressed false charges against hundreds of them.

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Bokaro, Jharkhand

Nature of Protest

Protests/marches

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Forest Department, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Electrosteel Steels Limited, Vedanta Group

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

Image Credit:  

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Documented By

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Reviewed By

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Updated By

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Edited By

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