A key panel under the Environment Ministry is understood to have accepted the recommendations of the N C Saxena committee report seeking ban on mining projects of UK-based Vedanta Resources in Niyamgiri Hills in Orissa citing violation of norms.
Sources said that the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) under Environment Ministry in a meeting today almost agreed with the findings of the report which said allowing the proposed mining project in the area would not be a good idea as it would deprive two local tribes of their rights.
The Committee has submitted the report to Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh who is likely to take a decision in the matter.
When contacted, Ramesh refused to give any details. Sources, however, said the committee has concurred with the Saxena Panel's observation that the Vedanta has violated several environmental and forest norms in collusion with the state officials at the site.
The report was commissioned by the Environment Ministry which had set up a four-member panel headed by Saxena, member of the National Advisory Council, to probe into the alleged violations of tribal and forest laws.
It has also accused the company of illegally occupying forest land for its $1.7 billion mining project.
The panel had stated, "The committee is of the firm view that allowing mining in the proposed mining lease area by depriving two primitive tribal groups -- Kutia and Dongaria Kondh -- of their rights over the proposed mining site in order to benefit a private company (Vedanta) would shake the faith of tribal people in the laws of the land."
The allegations have been, however, strongly refuted by the Naveen Patnaik government, which claimed that the Saxena report has cast aspersions on the state over grant of mining licenses, even though the Supreme Court has already given its ruling on the matter.
Ramesh had already made it clear last week that he would look at the matter in its totality, taking into account the various laws and economic consideration and "only then will a final clearance be given to the mining project."
The minister had also said he would look into reported violations and requisite action would follow.
Reacting to the panel report, Vedanta Resources' Chairman Anil Agarwal had said, "We are law abiding people. We will not start mining at all until and unless we get 100 per cent clearance from the authorities concerned."