Ministry denies nod for Vedanta's Niyamgiri bauxite project

Vedanta Resources has received a further setback to its bauxite mining project in the environmentally and ethnically sensitive area of the Niyamgiri Hills in Odisha, with the union ministry of environment and forests rejecting the mining proposal.

Campaigners hailed it as a triumph for the rights of local people. Twelve villages in the Niyamgiri hills of Odisha had unanimously rejected the controversial proposal in August 2013 (See: Villagers deal knockout blow to Vedanta bauxite project)

The 12 villages were selected by the Odisha government from among more than 100 in the Niyamgiri hills after a Supreme Court ruling on 18 April 2013.

Reports today say the letter of rejection from the environment ministry was issued on 8 January.

Anil Agarwal's Vedanta Resources, listed in London but focussed on mineral exploitation in India, has suffered a number of environmental setbacks for its Indian units like Sesa Goa and Sterlite Industries.

Vedanta had to shut down a proposed alumina refinery at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district after failing to run it at full capacity due to a shortage of bauxite, a key mineral needed to produce aluminium.

Vedanta's bauxite mining proposal drew international criticism after the local Dongria Kondh and Kutia tribes said their deity Niyam Raja lives in the hills and that the proposed mine will violate their social, cultural and religious rights.

The environment ministry had cancelled stage II forest clearance for using 660.75 hectares of forest land for the proposed mining in August 2010.