As 11 out of 12 gram sabhas rejected mining in the hills

As 11 out of 12 gram sabhas had rejected mining in Niyamgiri hills, the Naveen Patnaik government and Vedanta should now close the Niyamgiri chapter in a dignified manner, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has said.

“The bauxite reserve in Niyamgiri could provide less than 10 per cent of the ore required for Vedanta’s refinery at Lanjigarh. Why are they so obsessed with Niyamgiri? This is Jabardasti,” Mr. Ramesh said while talking to The Hindu on the sidelines of a Congress rally organised here in this coastal Odisha town on Saturday.

All the 12 villages for holding gram sabhas were selected by the Odisha government. Many people, including Union Tribal Affairs Minister Kishore Chandra Deo, were apprehensive that the selection of these villages would be match-fixing by the State government, but tribal people proved everybody wrong, Mr. Ramesh said.

“If the Odisha government and Vedanta still want to mine Niyamgiri, I can say it will be Naveenanta [end of Naveen],” said Mr. Ramesh, who as Union Environment Minister in August 2010 rejected the Stage II forest clearance that Vedanta had applied for the refinery project.