Constitution of India — Articles 32, 25, 26 & 244 — Mining of bauxite ore in Kalahandi and Rayagada Districts of Orissa — Claims of STs and other TFDs, Directions to Gram Sabha to consider — Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC), a State of Orissa Undertaking, preferred petition seeking Writ of Certiorari to quash the order passed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) rejecting the Stage-II forest clearance for diversion of forest land for mining of bauxite ore in Lanjigarh Bauxite Mines in Kalahandi and Rayagada Districts of Orissa — State of Orissa maintained the stand that the State has the ownership over the mines and minerals deposits beneath the forest land and that the STs and other TFDs cannot raise any claim or rights over them, nor the Gram Sabha has any right to adjudicate such claims — Held, Grama Sabha functioning under the Forest Rights Act read with Section 4(d) of PESA Act has an obligation to safeguard and preserve the traditions and customs of the STs and other forest dwellers, their cultural identity, community resources etc., which they have to discharge following the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs vide its letter dated 12.7.2012 — Therefore, question whether STs and other TFDs, like Dongaria Kondh, Kutia Kandha and others, have got any religious rights i.e. rights of worship over the Niyamgiri hills, known as Nimagiri, near Hundaljali, which is the hill top known as Niyam-Raja, have to be considered by the Gram Sabha — Gram Sabha can also examine whether the proposed mining area Niyama Danger, 10 km away from the peak, would in any way affect the abode of Niyam-Raja — If the BMP, in any way, affects their religious rights, especially their right to worship their deity, known as Niyam Raja, in the hills top of the Niyamgiri range of hills, that right has to be preserved and protected — This aspect of the matter has not been placed before the Gram Sabha for their active consideration, but only the individual claims and community claims received from Rayagada and Kalahandi Districts, most of which the Gram Sabha has dealt with and settled — State Government as well as the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India, would assist the Gram Sabha for settling of individual as well as community claims — Court is, therefore, inclined to give a direction to the State of Orissa to place these issues before the Gram Sabha with notice to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India and the Gram Sabha would take a decision on them and communicate the same to the MOEF, through the State Government — On the conclusion of the proceeding before the Gram Sabha determining the claims submitted before it, the MoEF shall take a final decision on the grant of Stage II clearance for the Bauxite Mining Project in the light of the decisions of the Gram Sabha thereafter — The Alumina Refinery Project is well advised to take steps to correct and rectify the alleged violations by it of the terms of the environmental clearance granted by MoEF — Writ Petition disposed of with the directions — Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 — Section 2 — Mining operations — Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 — Section 4 — Direction for consideration of claims — Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 — Section 6 — Rights of STs and other TFDs — Interference with, Determination of.

(Para 58 to 63)

Orissa Mining Corporation Ltd. v. Ministry of Environment & Forest[Bench Strength 3], Writ Petition (Civil) No. 180/2011(18/04/2013), 2013(6) SCALE 57: 2013(5) JT 565 [Aftab Alam, J.: K.S. Radhakrishnan, J.: Ranjan Gogoi, J.]

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