ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Stalling Vedanta

Suhit K Sen’s, “Vedanta Hymn: The Scion’s Political Gambit” (EPW, 30 October 2010) was informative and made important points. The author focuses on how the Vedanta project in Orissa was stalled on grounds of environmental degradation as well as adversely affecting the social fabric of the Kondh tribes. Sen also states that the State should obtain “Prior Informed Consent” from the panchayat(s) before launching any project. The Fifth Schedule of the Constitution has provisions for the panchayats to decide about projects undertaken in their areas. Interestingly, he also mentions the possibility of providing 26% share in profits from the mines to those affected or displaced. He also reposes great faith in the young Rahul Gandhi for taking up the tribal cause.

It would have been better if the issue of tribal rights had been stressed and it was handled by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. The issue of “Right to Self-Determination” of the tribes in Vedanta’s area of operation has not been looked into. In the given case the Vedanta infrastructure should have been handed over to the local tribal bodies. They should be allowed to retain all the income and not just 26%.

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