Environmentalists have hailed the government's rejection of London-listed Vedanta's bauxite mining project in Orissa's Niyamgiri hills, saying the decision was in favour of the poor tribal communities residing there.
The Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment welcomed the environment ministry's decision, saying that it was appalled at the way that Vedanta had been violating all laws. "This is certainly a decision which goes in favour of the poor and marginalised people of Orissa -- a manifestation of 'environmentalism of the poor'," said a statement released by the CSE.
The green group's head, Sunita Narain said it was clear that the entire project had made a number of violations of both the environment and forest acts. "It is not green lobby which is fighting development, but it is the poor tribals who are saying that this development is coming on top of our back and is making us even poorer," she said.
Describing the decision a "great victory for India", environmentalist Bittu Sehgal said, "This is a victory of common sense as these forests would have been badly affected by the mining, not just the people, but all the lions, elephants, everything."
"Sensible people are very happy it (rejection) has happened. I am sure it is a very difficult battle for Jairam Ramesh and he should be congratulated for staying on course," he said.
Sehgal noted that usually environmental defeats are permanent, and wins are temporary. "But, there should be an exemplary action so that others don't follow such people," he said.
Biswajit Mohanty of Wildlife Society of Orissa also expressed happiness that the environment ministry had finally pulled the plug on the Niyamgiri hill bauxite mining project.
"They have been violating laws left and right," he said, pointing out that he had first filed a petition in 2004 against the multinational group for setting up the project without clearance.
Also welcoming the decision, Ritwik Dutta, environmental lawyer, said that both the central and state governments are tainted with their association over the project.
"I don't see it as a centre and state issue. Both are equally guilty. It was the central government which gave the central clearance," said Dutta, a Supreme Court lawyer.
He added that the central government should have put a stop to the project five years ago, but did not take the step for political reasons.