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Aug 19, 2013 at 07:07pm IST

Odisha: All gram sabhas say no to Vedanta aluminium refinery

Bhubaneshwar: In a huge blow to Vedanta Resources Plc's in Odisha, all the gram sabhas have voted against its Rs 50,000-crore aluminium refinery project in the Niyamgiri hills of the state.

Tribals in all the 12 gram sabhas held in Rayagada and Kalahandi districts have voted against Vedanta's mining project. They rejected the mining project saying it would affect their livelihoods and religious sentiments.

The voting exercise was conducted as per the Supreme Court directions and the results will impact the Ministry of Environment and Forests final report.

The result of the voting, which will have a bearing on the final report of the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) is likely to jeopardise the investment of Vedanta's alumina refining project in Kalahandi district.

The project has drawn the anger of rights groups internationally and highlights the difficult task India faces in balancing economic development with the need to cushion hundreds of millions of poor from the fallout.

In April the Supreme Court had ordered Odisha to submit a report based on the views of the villagers to the MoEF within three months. The ministry, which had earlier opposed the project, would make the final decision two months thereafter on whether Vedanta and partner Orissa Mining Corp Ltd (OMC) can go ahead with mining, the court had ruled.

The Lanjigarh plant in Kalahandi district, about 450 km from state capital Bhubaneswar, has been struggling to source bauxite since its commissioning in August 2007.