The Week in Review for 27 August 2010

The Week in Review for 27 August 2010

On Tuesday the environment ministry effectively scrapped Vedanta’s plan to mine bauxite project in the state. It said the mine had violated key laws like the Forest Rights Act and the Environment Protection Act. Vedanta subsidiary Sterlite and the state-owned Orissa Mining Corporation had joined hands to set up the Niyamgiri mine. Their plan was to extract bauxite and feed it into a refinery owned by another Vedanta subsidiary.

The environment ministry decision was partly based on a report from former government official N.C. Saxena. That report said the mining project had denied the local Dongria Kondh tribe its legitimate rights under the Forest Rights Act. It added that the refinery had also violated the law by expanding its capacity.

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The nuclear liability bill is now close to becoming law. On Wednesday the Lok Sabha passed the bill with a voice vote, but not before the government agreed to 18 amendments. Among the changes- the liability cap has gone up three times to Rs1,500 crore. And the controversial word “intent" has been removed. The wording in original bill meant the government would have to prove intent to cause nuclear damage for a company to be liable for an accident. The nuclear liability bill is necessary step in India’s efforts to get American nuclear energy companies to set up projects locally. It will now have to be approved by the Rajya Sabha and the president.

India is also a step closer to simpler direct tax laws. On Thursday the cabinet approved a bill that will simplify those rules. The government will now go to parliament on Monday to get it approved.