The Supreme Court on Thursday extended the time for gram sabhas in Odisha to decide on allowing mining in the mineral-rich regions of Rayagada and Kalahandi districts where Vedanta proposes to set up an alumina refinery and other projects.
A bench extended the time till August 19.
In April, the court had ruled the gram sabhas were “free to consider all the community, individual as well as cultural and religious claims, over and above the claims that had already been received from the Rayagada and Kalahandi districts.”
The state government as well as the Ministry of Tribal Affairs were asked to assist the gram sabhas for settling of individual as well as community claims after explaining the issues to them. The gram sabhas were asked to take a decision within three months. This deadline was extended by a bench headed by Justice K S Radhakrishnan.
The MoEF can take a final decision on the grant of Stage II clearance for the bauxite mining project only in the light of the decisions of the gram sabhas within two months of receiving it.
The main judgment was passed when Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC), an Orissa undertaking, approached the court seeking to quash the order passed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in August 2010 rejecting the Stage-II forest clearance for diversion of 660.749 hectares of forest land for mining of bauxite ore in Lanjigarh Bauxite Mines in Kalahandi and Rayagada Districts.