New Delhi, April 1: The Supreme Court today said it was not possible on its part to order mining activities in the state’s bauxite-rich Niyamgiri hills unless the gram sabhas and others likely to be affected by it were also heard in the matter.

The apex court asked the Odisha Mining Corporation, which had sought fresh gram sabhas to consider the contentious Niyamgiri mining issue, to make the 14 gram sabhas, which had earlier rejected the move for mining bauxite and others aggrieved in the matter, parties before it decided on the controversy.

The controversy had erupted after the corporation and the Vedanta group had formed a joint venture seeking the Union ministry of environment and forest’s permission for bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri triggering protests from the Kondh tribal people of the region. It had been forced to set up a committee in 2010 to find out whether Vedanta had complied with environmental laws and, therefore, it would be right to accord final clearance to the project. But, the panel’s report indicated violation of laws. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had also batted for the tribal people addressing a public meeting near the hills, where he described himself as their sipahi (sepoy). Read more