A government panel said on Monday UK-based mining group Vedanta Resources Plc should not be given permission for bauxite mining in Orissa. “This committee is of the firm view that allowing mining in the proposed mining lease area by depriving two primitive tribal groups of their rights…in order to benefit a private company would shake the faith of the tribals in the law of the land,” the N.C. Saxena Committee that was set up by India’s environment ministry said. The panel said such a move may have serious consequences for the security and the well being of the entire country.
A spokesman for Vedanta in India said he had no immediate comment as he was yet to see the panel’s report. Government sources said the environment ministry’s forest advisory committee would take up the panel’s recommendations and announce a final decision soon. India-focused Vedanta last month defended its human rights record at a shareholders’ meeting where some fund managers joined pressure groups to protest over its plans to build a bauxite mine in an area sacred to indigenous people. London-listed Vedanta had denied that building a mine to extract the raw material to make aluminium in Orissa state would harm the indigenous Dongria Kondh people.
The mining site is located in an uninhabited area so no one will be displaced, but the project will help lift the poor Kalahandi district out of poverty, Vedanta Chairman Anil Agarwal had told the meeting. India’s Environment Ministry on June 30 ordered a new panel to investigate whether Vedanta’s planned mine could impact local tribes and wildlife. A report on Vedanta submitted to the environment ministry in March said company was violating environmental guidelines and had not taken adequate consideration of the impact on the Dongria Kondh people.