MoEF justifies cancellation of environmental clearance to Vedanta
The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has held that its decision of cancellation of the environmental clearance granted to Vedanta for the Lanjigarh Bauxite mining project in Odisha was right and that forest land cannot be diverted under the provisions of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.
As per MoEF, the diversion of forest land on the proposed mining site of the Lanjigarh bauxite mining lease is violative of the fundamental rights of the Dongria Kondh tribals as well as the spirit of Forest Rights Act especially for the vulnerable tribal groups such as the Dongria Kondh and thus cannot be allowed for this reason alone.
As per Govt. the Lanjigarh bauxite mining lease is located in Scheduled Areas as referred to in Clause (1) of Article 244 of the Constitution. Circumscribing or extinguishing of forest rights in such areas shall not be in conformity with the provisions of the clause-5 of the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution.
About Dongria Kondh tribe:
The Dongria Kondh, a primitive tribal group [now termed as particularly vulnerable tribe], has been protecting more than 7 sq. km. of the sacred undisturbed forests on top of the mountain, where the proposed mining lease area of the Lanjigarh bauxite mining lease is located. They consider the land and forests sacred to their deity. Diversion of these sacred areas for mining will undermine the customary rights of the Dongria Kondhs to protect their sacred places of worship and thereby amount to a violation of their fundamental right to manage their own affairs in the matter of religion and fundamental right to conserve the culture of their own. It was also in direct violation further of the specific provisions of the Forest Rights Act.