A government panel said a bauxite mine planned by a British firm in Orissa state would seriously affect indigenous tribes in the region, news reports said Monday, dpa reported
The panel set up by Environment Ministry said the project, which had come under a cloud over environmental clearances, could damage relations with the 8,000-strong Dongria Kondh tribals who live in the Niyamgiri Hills area.
"The committee is of the firm view that allowing mining in the proposed mining lease area by depriving two primitive tribal groups - Kutia and Dongria Kondh - of their rights over the proposed mining site in order to benefit a private company (Vedanta) would shake the faith of people in the laws of the land," the panel's report said, according to the PTI news agency.
Britain-based Vedanta Alumina, part of the Anil Agarwal-promoted Vedanta Resources Plc, has built an alumina refinery at an investment of 800 million dollars and production has already started.
The firm, which is currently sourcing bauxite from other states at market rates, said mining permission in the hills was essential for it to reduce the cost of production, the IANS news agency reported.
India's Supreme Court in August 2008 allowed the mining operation, despite opposition from tribal and environment groups who consider the hills sacred.
The Environment Ministry will decide on the mining project.
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Saturday said the government will not tolerate any violation of the domestic forest laws and would evaluate the project after the panel submitted its report.