THE August 24 decision of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) refusing to allow mining in the Niyamgiri hills jointly by the Orissa Mining Corporation and Sterlite Industries (India) Limited, a Vedanta Group company, has given a boost to the movements against displacement of people and illegal mining and land acquisition for various mineral-based industries in violation of land acquisition rules, mining laws, laws pertaining to protection of the environment, conservation of forests, safeguarding of wildlife and the rights of tribal and non-tribal populations living on forest land. Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district, where Vedanta Aluminium Limited has established an alumina refinery, has been the nerve point of these struggles. The Ministry withdrew the stage-II clearance it had granted for mining in the Niyamgiri hills.
India forms new tribal council in wake of Vedanta victory
Following the Dongria Kondh tribe’s groundbreaking successful defense of their mountain homeland, the Prime Minister of India has created a new committee for tribal rights.
A life-giving hill
Vedanta, a diversified mining company, has failed to get a green signal for mining for bauxite in Niyamgiri — the sacred mountain that upholds universal law for the Dongria Kondh, Kutia Kondh and Jharania Kondh tribes. The tribals have been resisting the mining since Vedanta set up its alumina refinery in Lanjigarh, at the base of Niyamgiri. The objective was always to mine the Niyamgiri bauxite, but seeing the resistance, Sterlite, the earlier avatar of Vedanta, denied any link between the refinery and the mine, and applied to the ministry of forests and environment for an environmental clearance for the refinery. In its application the company provided wrong information to the effect that the refinery would not require forest land, and the refinery started in 2004. The Dongria Kondh and other tribes inhabiting the Niyamgiri forests have been resisting the threat of mining of bauxite and the aluminium refinery in their sacred mountain ever since. See
How the news media in India covered the struggle against Vedanta