Ignoring the suggestion of the union tribal affairs ministry, Odisha government plans to conduct gram sabhas in only 12 villages of Kalahandi and Rayagada districts to decide whether to allow bauxite mining at Niyamgiri hills by Vedanta Group. The state government will conduct gram sabhas on July 18 and August 19.
Earlier, the union tribal ministry suggested the state government to add more number of villages for gram sabha.
The ministry opined that limiting gram sabha proceedings to only 12 villages was not in accordance with the Supreme Court order and the directions issued by the ministry under Section 12 of Forest Right Act (FRA).
Union tribal ministry opined that Niyamagiri is the source of water for many important rivers which flow through not only Odisha but also Andhra Pradesh. The mining project obstructs and disrupts the aquifer particularly from catchment which is in Niyamagiri hill. Other than the religious and cultural aspects, the issue also has environmental implications, the ministry opined.