The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has rejected a multi-billion dollar bauxite mining project of Anil Agarwal-led (pictured) Vedanta in Odisha on grounds that villagers do not want any mining activity in the area.
Congress party vice-president Rahul Gandhi had spoken against the project while supporting the rights of tribal of the Niyamgiri Hills who were severely getting affected due to the project. The project’s worth is around Rs 50,000 crore.
The final decision on the project of the UK-based firm came on January 8 by the new Union environment and forest minister M Veerappa Moily. His ministry rejected the proposal to provide Stage-II forest clearance to the project.
“As per the proceedings of the 12 Palli Sabhas (five villages of Kalahandi and seven villages of Rayagada District) concerning the Lanjigarh Bauxite lease area, submitted by the Odisha government on October 3, 2013. All the 12 Palli Sabhas have unanimously decided not to allow any mining activity on the Niyama Dangars,” read the rejection order, which also been sent to the Odisha government.
The order cleared that the “central government” rejects “Stage -II approval under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 for diversion of 660.749 hectares of forest land in favour of Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) for Bauxite mining ore in Lanjigarh Bauxite Reserve in Kalaihandi and Rayagadha districts.”
Vedanta had partnered with OMC for developing a bauxite mine so that it can be supplied to Vedanta’s alumina refinery. The project was rejected in 2010 by the then environment minister Jairam Ramesh on grounds of serious environmental violations. Later Rahul Gandhi had visited the area to meet tribals protesting against the project and had voiced his full support in their fight.
OMC had approached the Supreme Court against MoEF’s order, but in 2013 the apex court directed that views of local people who were getting affected should be taken into consideration.