Setback for Vedanta: Apex court says gram sabhas must clear mining in Odisha
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has stalled Vedanta Group’s bauxite mining project in Niyamgiri Hills of Odisha till gram sabhas of Rayagada and Kalahandi districts give clearance to it.
The apex court directed the gram sabhas of the two districts to decide within three months the issues arising out of the mining project, including that of the tribals residing in the area. A Bench of justices Aftab Alam, K. S. Radhakrishnan and Ranjan Gogoi also directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to take action in two months after a report from the gram sabhas is received.
The Bench gave the directions on the petition moved by State-owned Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) challenging MoEF’s decision to cancel the environmental clearance granted to the Niyamgiri Bauxite Mining Project of Sterlite Industries Ltd, the Indian arm of UK-based Vedanta Group. The Ministry had refused the next stage forest clearance to OMC and Sterlite’s mining project in Niyamgiri Hills area in Lanjigarh, Kalahandi and Rayagada districts, accepting the Forest Advisory Committee’s recommendation for withdrawal of the clearance.
During the proceedings, OMC and Sterlite Industries had claimed that no ecological damage has been caused due to the mining activities in Niyamgiri Hills.