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Green Nod To Vedanta Univ May Be Revoked

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Environment Ministry is all set to revoke the green clearance granted to the Rs 15,000- crore Vedanta University project near Puri in Orissa, which had been opposed by a section of locals, in view of a recent court order declaring "illegal" the land acquisition process.

In April, the ministry had suspended environment clearance to the project following allegations of "illegal activities" by promoters, the Anil Agarwal Foundation.

It had directed that all construction and development works be halted until a detailed examination of the complaints is completed by an Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) and a final decision taken on the issue.

However, sources in the ministry told PTI that now there was no question of giving clearance to the project in the wake of the adverse Orissa High Court ruling.

"The court has already declared the land acquisition process illegal. Hence there is no question of seeking further clarification in the matter," they said.

The University was proposed to be built on 6,000 acres along the Orissa coast between Puri and Konark which was opposed by environmentalists as well activists alleging that the project would pose a serious threat to natural biodiversity and wildlife in the nearby Balukhand sanctuary.

Responding to several PILs filed in the court alleging that Orissa government and Vedanta did not follow the Land Acquisition (companies) Rules (1963), a bench comprising Chief Justice V Gopalgowda and Justice B P Das last week ordered the return of acquired land to their owners.

The court held that the land acquisition notification for the Vedanta University project was illegal and ordered Vedanta to return the plots to their owners.

The Environment Ministry too while suspending the clearance had alleged that it had "received information alleging, inter alia, irregularities, illegal, unethical and unlawful deeds" by the Foundation.

It also noted that "serious objections raised during Orissa Coastal Zone Management Authority meeting had not been appropriately considered" in issuing the clearance.