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Gram sabha in Niyamgiri soon Law Dept to give its views in 2 days

News Date:09-May-2013

BHUBANESWAR:Acting on the lines of Supreme Court directives on conducting gram sabhas for considering the environmental and religious issues relating to Vedanta Aluminium’s bauxite mining projects in two Rayagada and Kalahandi, Chief Secretary Bijay Kumar Patnaik on Wednesday asked the law department to submit its views in two days. The law department after considering the observations of the apex court and opinions of the government would come forward with definite views on conducting gram sabhas in Niyamgiri Hills on both religious and mining project issues. Basing on the views of the law department, course of action for conducting gram sabha will be decided by the government. The Supreme Court on April 18 this year had given its final judgement comprising of 85 pages where it had asked for proceedings of the gram sabha to be recorded in presence of a judicial officer appointed by the High Court. On the basis of these gram sabha proceedings, the Union Ministry for Environment and Forests (MoEF) can take the final call on Stage-II forest clearance required for the project, SC has said. The gram sabha will give its views in three months and these views will be considered by the MoEFwithin two months. In the wake of SC order for holding gram sabha,the Chief Secretary chaired a high level meeting today . The observations of Supreme Court on the sacred place of Niyam Raja, stage-II clearance of bauxite mining project and right of the Government over minerals were needed to be clarified by the law department. Furthermore, Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MOTA) has also issued guidelines on conducting gram sabha in Niyamgiri Hills. “It is to be clarified whether gram sabha will be conducted in 12 hill top villages where primarily Dongria Kandhas and Kutia Kandhas are residing in both Kalahandi and Rayagada districts or in hundreds of tribal villages situated in both the districts,” said a senior official of the law department. Meanwhile, the government has obtained views of the Supreme Court judgement from the Senior Counsel on Record which was also discussed in the meeting. Similarly, stage-II clearance of the mining project and religious rights of tribals over the hills were discussed. Secretaries of Forest & Environment, SC & ST Development, Steel & Mines departments, CMD of Odisha Mining Corporation and other officials participated in the deliberations.

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