Apex court rejects the OMC-Vedanta joint venture in what is being seen as a decisive victory for the indigenous tribal group, the Dongria Kondhs
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court on May 6 rejected Odisha government-owned miner, Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC)’s petition for conducting gram sabhas for the second time for mining in the Niyamgiri hills, putting an end over the speculation that mining may be resumed in the sacred hills of the primitive tribe, the Dongria Kondhs.
Earlier on April 18, a Supreme Court bench hearing the petition filed by OMC to start the mining of bauxite in these hills, had asked the Odisha government to get clearances from 12 gram sabhas in the two districts of Rayagada and Kalahandi. However, these gram sabhas had opposed the joint venture between OMC and UK-based mining giant Vedanta Group citing that the Niyamgiri hills were sacred for the Dongria Kondh tribals. The state government has made a fresh move to mine bauxite which is to be supplied to the Lanjigarh alumina refinery owned by Vedanta from the Niyamgiri hills in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts nearly three years after gram sabhas rejected the proposal. Following the Supreme Court order, the gram sabhas unanimously reiterated their opposition to the mining.
On May 6, a bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi dismissed the petition saying OMC could approach appropriate fora against the decision of the gram sabhas.
According to Bhubaneshwar-based activist, Prafulla Samantray, who has been closely associated with the movement, the judgement is a decisive victory for the Dongria Kondhs who have been opposing mining right from the beginning. “This is the end of the road for those who were eyeing on mining in the Niyamgiris,” he added.
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