The State Pollution Control Board of Odisha’s member secretary Siddharth Das reprimands Vedanta’s representatives for raising the height of the embankments of the red mud pond without the required permission.
Video II ~ Red mud pond in Rengopalli, Odisha - Part II
An unidentified man believed to be a representative of Vedanta informs Das that the company hardly ever takes permission. Work is usually done first and permission taken later, he says, making it sound like a mere formality. He then says that this particular move to raise the height of the embankment was taken on the advice of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc). To this, Das retorts, “Are they the statutory authority to do that?” There is silence. Das then tells them that the company will have to stop work until further orders. They look at him with bewilderment.
Vedanta’s law officer, Nabal Kishore Sharma, has more to say. He speaks of the proposed rehabilitation of those willing to part with their land, and then in Oriya, offers to have all pending criminal cases against the 47 arrested withdrawn if they go along with the company.
Tehsildar Sushant Petel is seen in the video telling the protestors in Oriya, “This land belongs to the company and there is Section 144 in force [which prohibits gatherings of people]”. Force was used to disperse the crowd, and as many as 47 people were arrested and put in jail under Section 307 of the IPC on such charges as attempted murder. They were released after 20 days.