SC rejects OMC plea for fresh gram sabha on Niyamgiri

New Delhi: In a major setback to Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC), the Supreme Court today rejected its petition demanding fresh Gram Sabha on mining of bauxite in the Niyamgiri Hills.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi quashed the petition in which OMC had argued that the there were procedural lacunae in the way the 12 gram sabhas were conducted in 2013. The apex court held that if there are any legal issues pertaining to the decision taken by the gram sabhas, then the State government can appeal against it in an appropriate forum.

Notably, the Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) had filed an interlocutory petition in the apex court seeking a review of the 2013 decision.

The apex court decision was based on the views of 12 the gram sabhas, which unanimously rejected the proposal for mining in Niyamgiri hills, which is linked to Vedanta’s Lanjigarh alumina refinery.

Though the OMC has the lease for the Niyamgiri hills, the major beneficiary would have been Vedanta under a joint venture agreement between the two.

In 2013, 12 gram sabhas in and around the hill range, which were conducted as per a directive from the Supreme Court, had voted emphatically against mining in Niyamgiri hills.