Mining by Vedanta for bauxite in Orissa's Niyamgiri Hill would severely disturb the wildlife habitat in the sacred hills, result in chopping down of more than 1.20 lakh trees, strip off more than seven sq km of the hill top, besides disturbing the forest-based livelihood of the local tribal communities, a government panel has said.
Based on the panel's report and other recommendations, Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday rejected environmental clearance to the project.
The minister on Tuesday said there "has been a serious violation of the Environment Protection Act, Forest Conservation Act and the Forest Rights Act".
Here are the highlights of the report, which was prepared by a four-member team headed by National Advisory Council member NC Saxena. The report was submitted Aug 16.
-- Mining operations of the intensity proposed in this project spread over more than seven sq km would severely disturb the important wildlife habitat, which has been proposed to be a part of the Niyamgiri Wildlife Sanctuary.
-- More than 1.21 lakh trees would need to be cleared for mining besides many lakh more shrubs and herbal flora.
-- Mining will destroy the grassland-forest landscape and adversely affect wildlife in the area.
-- The value of Niyamgiri Hill forests as an important elephant habitat is well recognised by its inclusion in the South Orissa Elephant Reserve. Mining on the scale proposed would severely disturb elephant habitats and threaten the important task of elephant conservation in south Orissa.
-- The mining operations in the site involves stripping off more than seven sq km of the Niyamgiri Hill top which would drastically alter the region's water supply, severely affecting both ecological systems and human communities dependent on this water.
-- If mining is permitted on this site, it will not only be illegal but will also destroy more than seven sq km of sacred, undisturbed forest land on top of the mountain.
-- It will also endanger the self-sufficient forest based livelihoods of primitive tribal groups and harm the livelihood of hundreds of Dalit families who indirectly depend upon these lands.
-- Building roads would make it easy for the wildlife poachers and timber smugglers to access the area, thus threatening the rich biodiversity of the hills.