On a plea filed by Bharat Aluminium Company Ltd (Balco) seeking approval for expansion of its plant in Korba, the Supreme Court has issued notice to the Chhattisgarh Government and others. The expansion plan requires breaking of forest land.
A special bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan issued notice to the state government and the Central Empowered Committee attached to the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
Balco had sought permission for breaking 170 acres of forest land of expansion of its existing project.
Accoring to Anil Dewan, Balco counsel, the company plans to establish an additional capacity of 0.65 million tones per annum smelter plant at cost of Rs 80 billion.
He said that Balco is prepared to pay the Net Present Value (compensation) to the government for converting the forest land into commercial land.
However, Amicus Curie Harish Salve alleged that the company was in illegal occupation of over 1,800 acres of forest land in Korba.
Refuting the charges, Balco said that it was in possession of land for quite some time and was paying property tax to the state government even though there was no formal lease in Balco’s favour.
Another issue relating to illegal occupation of around 18,000 acres of land by Balco is pending before the High Court.