May move to SC on Niyamgiri Gram Sabha: Deo

Bhubaneswar: With Odisha government on Thursday holding the Gram Sabha in Niyamgiri Hills area, Union Tribal Affairs Minister V Kishore Chandra Deo said limiting the exercise (Gram Sabha) to 12 villages was not in accordance with Supreme Court's judgement.
 
"Odisha government holding Gram Sabhas in only 12 hill slope villages of Niyamgiri is not in compliance to the Supreme Court judgement delivered on April 18. We may move the Apex Court over this issue," said Deo.
 
Stating that all the villages living in Niyamgiri Hills area should be given chance to give their opinion through Gram Sabha on the proposed mining, the Union Minister said, "Only 12 villages cannot take the decision." 
 
However, Odisha's Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste Development Minister Lal Behari Himirika said: "We have selected 12 hill slope villages for holding Gram Sabha. And this is as per the Supreme Court's judgement."
 
Himirika claimed the state government has not violated the Apex Court's order.
 
Earlier, Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) secretary Vibha Puri Das in a letter to the Odisha Chief Secretary, had said that limiting the gram sabha proposal to only a dozen villages would not be in line with Supreme Court orders and the directions issued by the Ministry under Section 12 of Forest Rights Act (FRA).
 
In response to the MoTA secretary's letter, Sarangi had said that the Centre was free to move the Supreme Court if it was unhappy over the Odisha government's decision.
 
The Odisha AG has meanwhile observed in a report that holding gram sabhas in select Niyamgiri hills villages spread over Rayagada and Kalahandi districts would not be in contravention of the Supreme Court's April 18.