Sustainable development is an integral part of Vedanta’s strategy and overall ethos. There are four pillars of our sustainable approach namely, Environmental Stewardship, Nurturing People, Health and Safety and Empowering Communities. Environmental protection is reflected in every stage of our operation starting from design, selection of technologies, construction techniques, operating philosophy and monitoring.
Vedanta’s Alumina Refinery at Lanjigarh is the first Alumina refinery in country having zero discharge system i.e. no water or effluent is discharged to any outside water bodies from the refinery. The effluent is recycled within the plant which has helped us to reduce external water by more than 60%.
The movement of bauxite from the proposed mining area to the Refinery will take place through an environment-friendly pipe conveyor and thus avoiding any intermediate transfer point to adjust topography. The use of pipe conveyor minimises dust generation, ensures generation of minimum noise and avoids the need for road transportation. In addition measures like the use of dry fog system for dust suppression, zero discharge of water by recycling, regular sprinkling of water on haulage roads and overburden heaps and concurrent plantation have been undertaken to minimise air and water pollution. VAL has facilitated setting up of fly ash brick making units by local communities, which has provided a productive use for waste and has become a source of income for the communities. In the early stages of plant commissioning, some seepage was observed from the decant water pipe line from the Red Mud Pond which was subsequently addressed by carrying out a minor modification in the decant water. The issue of alleged seepage was also investigated by Indian Institute of Science, National Geophysical Research Institute, State Pollution Control Board and Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur and it was concluded that no contaminated water had affected the water streams. The layout has been made in such a manner that all facilities are located much above the highest flood level recorded in the last 50 years thus avoiding any chance of contamination of surface water even in case of flood situation.
The plant is equipped with necessary noise suppression facilities like acoustic enclosures in critical sections of the project. Besides green belt is being developed all around the plant which will help in reducing the noise levels further.
The plant is monitored regularly by statutory bodies like State Pollution Control Board for compliance to all air and water pollution norms. In a recent complaint lodged with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) about deaths due to tuberculosis, cattle deaths etc around the plant CPCB instructed SPCB to conduct a study and submit a report on the same. SPCB visited the site on 3-4 March 2010 and collected data for the last ten years from various departments like medical, veterinary etc, collected samples for air, water (surface and ground) and also consulted general public regarding the same. The OSPCB found no death in due to tuberculosis post commissioning of the plant. The pH of the ground and surface water was also found to be in the range of 6.7 to 7.5 at various locations around the plant (a 6.5 to 8.5 range is considered normal) which shows the presence of stringent environmental management plan in the plant. Majority of the data were matching with baseline data taken in 2002-03.
The performance of the Alumina Refinery is regularly examined by the Pollution Control Board. This examination covers air, noise and water pollution and monitoring of wastes. On various examinations by the Pollution Control Board, it has been established that the emissions from the stacks are within the permissible limits. Based on a recent examination, the PCB has granted the refinery, consent to operate valid through 31 March 2011 subject to certain conditions which the Company complies with on an ongoing basis.