State rejects Deo’s allegation on Niyamgiri mining project

Bhubaneswar: Odisha government today rejected the allegation of collusion with Vedanta Group to push its controversial bauxite mining project in Niyamgiri hills.
"We are not working for Vedanta. The state government functions as per the law of the land," state SC/ST Development Minister L B Himirika said.
He was reacting to Union Tribal Affairs Minister V Kishore Chandra Deo's allegation that the state was colluding with the private company on its bauxite mining project and suppressing the rights of affected scheduled tribes.
Deo had in a strongly-worded letter to Governor S C Jamir recently requested him to invoke his constitutional powers to protect the interests of tribals.
He had claimed that the state government was "treating with scant respect," Supreme Court's order on April 18.
Stating that he was unaware of Deo's letter to the Governor, Himirika said the state government was abiding by the Supreme Court order and was ready to hold the Gram Sabhas.
Though the state government has decided to hold Gram Sabhas in 12 hill villages in Rayagada and Kalahandi districts, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs was in favour of holding it in all the affected villages.
"As the Supreme Court has not mentioned the number of villages where Gram Sabhas will be held, the state government has decided to hold it in 12 places," ST/SC Development Secretary Santosh Sarangi said.
The state government would take the advocate general's view on the Supreme Court's order, Sarangi said.
The apex court had directed the state government to complete the Gram Sabhas within three months of receiving the order.