The Odisha Government is set conduct Gram Sabhas in 12 villages of Kalahandi and Rayagada districts to decide fate of the proposed bauxite mining for Vedanta atop Niyamgiri Hills. The Gram Sabhas will be held in four phases within July 30.

Vedanta will be allowed to mine in the Niyamgiri Hills in Kalahandi district of Odisha only if the Gram Sabha allows, said the Supreme Court has said in its April, 2013 order, adding the final decision on the project would be taken by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in consultation with the Gram Sabha.

In 2008, the Supreme Court had given phase 2 clearance to Vedanta to mine at Niyamgiri but after Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s rally in Kalahandi, the Ministry of Environment and Forests cancelled the clearance in August 2010.

The project was cancelled in August 2010 after a report highlighted various environmental threats and the endangering of the Niyamgiri’s Dongria Kondh tribe. Vedanta and the Odisha Mining Co-operation, who are the original lessee of the mines, had then moved the apex court challenging the cancellation.

The mining project was planned to supply up to 150 million tonnes of bauxite to Vedanta Aluminium, India’s largest producer of the metal, for a 1-million-tonne a year plant in the state that was shut in December because of lack of the raw material. India, the world’s fifth-biggest producer of bauxite, has been limiting its issue of bauxite leases, mainly because of protests over land acquisition.