Vedanta's Niyamgiri bauxite project may suffer on Congress' tribal tilt

Vedanta Resources' plans to mine bauxite in Niyamgiri in Orissa could suffer a blow or could even be undone with the Congress party trying to reach out to the tribal population, sections of which have been wooed successfully by its arch rival, the BJP while other sections have come under the sway of the Maoists.

According to political observers, the London-listed Vedanta Resources would need to go beyond simply convincing the central government of the value addition potential of its project. They say the corporate's business plans would now be seen in the larger context as the Congress-led UPA government's changes to the mining policy to align with the party's inclusive growth agenda.

According to Digvijay Singh, Congress general secretary, the party would insist that the tribal communities in the country who figure as a disproportionately high percentage of India's poorest had the right to use the resources, as spelt out in the Forest Rights Act, or FRA, a law passed by Parliament.

According to reports, a government appointed committee had claimed that the Forest Rights Act (FRA) had not been implemented in the areas where the bauxite project was coming up. The committee had suggested that the mining licence should not be given till the Act was implemented.

Meanwhile, the company said the Orissa government has told the centre that the act had been complied with. It added that the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) had asked the government of Orissa for conformance to Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and the Scheduled Tribe and Other Forests Dwellers (Recognition of Right) Act, 2006, and the government of Orissa has confirmed compliance in this regard as well.

The company, in a statement said that it had complied with all statutory requirements as per all the regulations and therefore expected the MoEF to give the final clearance.