New Delhi: Vedanta's bauxite mining project in Odisha's Niyamgiri Hills got stuck once again as the Supreme Court Thursday asked it to go back to the gram sabha for the consideration of the tribals' religious and cultural aspects.
The apex court forest bench, headed by Justice Aftab Alam, said that the gram sabha would look into the religious and cultural aspects of the (Dongaria Kondh) tribals in the region in three months' time and take a decision.
Thereafter, Vedanta will go to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) which will decide in two months' time on Phase 2 clearance.
The court's order came taking note of the tribals' worship on the hilltop of the Niyamgiri Hills.
The apex court verdict came on the Odisha Mining Corporation and Vedanta's plea against the 2010 MoEF order withdrawing Phase 2 clearance on the grounds that the project work would violate conditions attached to an earlier clearance granted in 2008.
Soon after the apex court verdict, activists fighting against the displacement of people for industry and mining in Odisha Thursday welcomed the order on Vedanta's Niyamgiri bauxite project in the State.
Prafulla Samantray, president of the Odisha unit of Lok Shakti Abhiyan, who is also a petitioner against the Vedanta mining project, said he would have been much happier had the court denied permission for mining in Niyamgiri hills of Kalahandi district.
Samantray, however, said he welcomed the decision of the court, as it recognised the gram sabha. "The court recognised the gram sabha as the authority to decide on mining in the scheduled area" he told IANS.
"It is the gram sabha which will take a call on the matter. We hope the gram sabha will give its verdict against the project" he said.