India court says locals to have say on Vedanta mine

India tribal
Image caption The tribes say the mining project will destroy their livelihood

India's top court has said local villagers will have a say on whether to allow mining group Vedanta to extract bauxite in the state of Orissa.

In 2010, the government had rejected the plans citing environmental concerns and rights of local tribes.

Vedanta, owned by Indian businessman Anil Agarwal, wants to extract bauxite from the Niyamgiri hill range which is revered by the Dongria Kondh tribe.

India is one of the world's largest producers of bauxite.

On Thursday, the judges maintained the ban on bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri hill range and said the rights of local tribespeople must be considered.

The court gave the local village councils in Rayagada and Kalahandi districts three months to decide whether they wanted mining in their area.

A federal government report in 2010 said mining in the area would deprive two ancient tribes - the Kutia and Dongria Kondh - of their rights for the benefit of a private company.

UK-based Vedanta has proposed a $2.7bn (£1.8bn) investment in the area and says the project will bring jobs and development to one of India's poorest districts. It has previously said it has complied with all rules and regulations.

The Dongria Kondh say the mining project will destroy their sacred hill and their source of livelihood.

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