(Reuters) -India’s Vedanta ran a “covert” lobbying campaign to weaken key environmental regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) said in an article on Thursday.
In January 2021, Vedanta Group Chairman Anil Agarwal told former environment minister Prakash Javadekar the government could add “impetus” to India’s economic recovery by allowing mining companies to boost production by up to 50% without having to secure new environmental clearances, the OCCRP said.
Vedanta’s oil business, Cairn India, also successfully lobbied to have public hearings scrapped for exploratory drilling in oil blocks it won in government auctions, the report said.
Vedanta told OCCRP that as “one of the leading natural resources organizations in India” the company operated “with an objective of import substitution by enhancing domestic production in a sustainable manner.”
“In view of the same, continuous representations are submitted for consideration to the Government in the best interest of national development and India’s march towards self-reliance in natural resources,” a company spokesperson told OCCRP.
Vedanta and Cairn India did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.
OCCRP’s report on Vedanta comes a day after the media group published a report on Adani Group that said the group family used “opaque” funds to invest in stocks.
(Reporting by Jahnavi Nidumolu in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler and Stephen Coates)