Odisha to seek mining nod for Niyamgiri again

Bhubaneswar: In another attempt to start bauxite mining in Niyamgiri hills, the State government is gearing up to hold gramsabhas once again. The State government has also outlined a plan to extract Bauxite from Niyamgiri through Odisha Mining Corporation.

As mining in Niyamgiri requires approval of the Supreme Court, the State mines department has also sought legal advice on the matter. According to sources, the State government will formally approach the Supreme Court and the Union Forest & Environment ministry based on the recommendations of legal experts.

Notably, two years after mining from Niyamgiri hills, which houses 12 villages, was prohibited; the State government is once again planning to get an approval for extraction of Bauxite from these hills. Sources said that the State government is planning to ensure long-term supply of Bauxite from Niyamgiri to the companies which whom it has inked MoUs. The mining will be done through Odisha Mining Corporation, said sources.

However, in order to conduct Gramsabhas approval of the Supreme Court is mandatory.

“As earlier the Gramsabhas were conducted with approval from Supreme Court, we are now seeking legal advice on whether we should approach the apex court or the Union Forest & Environment ministry to conduct the Gramsabhas again,” said Odisha Mines minister Prafulla Mallick.

However, experts opine that it will be difficult for the State government to get an approval from the concerned authorities and the court. “Given the fact that the proposal for mining in Niyamgiri has once been rejected by the Supreme Court, the government faces an uphill task to get a ruling in its favor,” feels former mines director B.K. Mohanty.