New Delhi: Anil Agarwal-led metal giant Vedanta has been accused of “illegal mining” by Azerbaijan, prompting India to assure the government of the former Soviet republic of investigating the issue.
Azerbaijan has complained to the Indian government that Vedanta Sterlite Industries was illegally exploiting gold in its territories that have been occupied by Armenia, a highly-placed official told PTI.
“India has assured Azerbaijan that it will probe the issue. The government has also told them that Indian companies will have to operate in accordance with inter-governmental agreements and local legislation,” the official said.
According to sources, the Commerce Ministry has forwarded the complaint of the Azerbaijan government to the Department of Mines for taking up this issue with Vedanta.
A Vedanta spokesperson could not be immediately contacted.
Azerbaijan raised this issue with a high-level Indian delegation which visited the Central Asian country recently.
The two former Soviet republics are locked in a long-standing land dispute, with Azerbaijan claiming that Armenia has occupied 20 per cent of Azheri territory.
Vedanta Resources, which is listed in London, has annual sales of $1.9 billion (Rs7,765 crore). A large part of its operations are in India where it has major market share in aluminium, copper, zinc and lead.
It acquired aluminium company Balco and Hindustan Zinc from the government during the previous NDA government. It is also in a dispute over buying the government’s remaining stake in Balco. Last month, the metal giant agreed to buy 71% stake in India’s largest private iron ore exporter Sesa Goa for $1.37 billion.