A government panel has indicated that the multi-billion dollar mining giant Vedanta has breached tribal rights and violated environmental regulations at its Rs 50,000-crore project in Orissa.
The environment and forests minister Jairam Ramesh said the violations covered tribal rights and forest rules.
Vedanta Resources and the Orissa government, however, asserted that there had been no violation of forest and environment laws.
The environment ministry had earlier this year asked three experts to examine Vedanta’s bauxite mining project in Niyamgiri from three angles — tribal rights, wildlife conservation and the forest conservation act.
The environment ministry is likely to share the document with the tribal affairs ministry for further investigation.
A panel member, Usha Ramanathan, has observed that no experts had been brought in to assess the implications of the mining project for the Dongria Konds, an endangered primitive tribe that lives in the area.
"The process of determination and settlement of individual, community and traditional rights has not been completed yet," she said in her section of the report.
J.K. Tewari, another panel member and chief conservator of forests, has reported that cutting and levelling of an area of wilderness appears to be a "violation" of the forest conservation act.
The third member, wildlife expert Vinod Rishi, has said that site inspection has revealed no violation of wildlife conservation laws, but has cautioned that the ecosystem in the region may not be able to withstand further stress.