The State Government on Monday directed the Collectors of Kalahandi and Rayagada districts to complete the process of conducting gram sabhas to decide the proposed bauxite mining by Vedanta Group as per the guidelines of the Supreme Court.
The process of conducting gram sabhas in 12 villages on the issue should be completed within three months as stipulated by the apex court in its April 18 order, a notification issued by the Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes Development Department stated.
The two districts have been given six weeks’ time to deal with issues concerning individual, community, cultural and religious claims of Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Traditional Forest Dwellers (TFDs) in 12 villages.
After inviting claims from the villagers, the district administration will complete the process of conducting gram sabha within the stipulated three months, ST and SC Development Secretary Santosh Sarangi told this paper.
As six weeks have already elapsed from the date of the apex court order, the State Government will request the Supreme Court to grant more time to complete the process of holding gram sabha.
The Forest and Environment Department will file an affidavit in the Supreme Court seeking six more weeks to complete the process, official sources said.
The apex court had directed the State Government to place issues concerning individual, community, cultural and religious claims of Scheduled Tribes (STs) and the traditional forest dwellers (TFDs) before the gram sabha which would decide the same in three months.
The court also directed that the proceedings of the gram sabha shall be attended as an observer by a judicial officer of the rank of the District Judge, nominated by the Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court.
The Law Minister said gram sabhas will be conducted in 12 villages on the Niyamgiri hills.
The Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes Development Department has asked the Collectors of the two districts to give wide publicity to the notification for holding palli sabhas along with the details of the Supreme Court order in all villages near the proposed mining sites in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts.