Union Environment Ministry on Saturday made it clear that no green nod has been given to Orissa Mining Corporation to mine bauxite in the sensitive Niyamgiri Reserve Forests in the State and the status quo remains.

“... the order passed by the MoEF expressly states that the environmental clearance has become ‘inoperable.’ There is no change in this status quo. It continues to remain inoperable,” the Ministry’s statement said.

Niyamgiri hills covering two districts of Raigarha and Kalahandi of Orissa is the homeland of the Dongriya Kondh tribals.

The Ministry said the issue of environmental clearance to Orissa Mining Corporation’s Lanjigarh Project has become “practically redundant” as it had withdrawn the forest clearance last year.

“Considering the fact that the MoEF has outright rejected the request for Forest Clearance, the question of granting environmental clearance on the land does not arise,” it said.

In the wake of media reports that Ministry’s statutory green clearance authority has given the nod for mining to a firm in the hills, the Ministry said the National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA) had referred the matter to the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for Non-Coal Mining Projects.

A five-member sub-committee was constituted by the EAC and it has reported back to the EAC itself, it said.

The Ministry said it was in the process of examining the recommendations by the EAC and will submit its decision to the the newly constituted National Green Tribunal, before whom the case is now to be heard.

The Ministry made it clear that it was not bound by the EAC’s recommendations.