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Apex court stalls Vedanta bauxite mining project in Odisha

PTI New Delhi | Updated on April 18, 2013 Published on April 18, 2013

The Supreme Court today stalled the Vedanta Group’s bauxite mining project in Niyamgiri Hills of Odisha till the gram sabhas of Rayagada and Kalahandi districts give clearance to it.

The apex court has directed the gram sabhas to decide in 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 the gram sabhas submit their report.

The Bench gave the direction on a petition moved by the State-owned Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC), challenging the MoEF decision to cancel the environmental clearance granted to Niyamgiri Bauxite Mining Project of Sterlite Industries Ltd.

Stelite is 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, after 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.

This contention had been opposed by the MoEF and various tribal rights groups which had alleged that the project has violated environmental norms.

The Ministry had submitted before the court that the forest dwellers cannot be evicted from the proposed mining sites in Niyamgiri Hills of Odisha till the “community and individual” rights of residents are decided under the law.

Published on April 18, 2013
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