A ‘gram sabha’ is an Indian term for local self-government at village level. The most recent in relation to Vedanta was held in Phuldumer in Kalahandi District, 500km southwest of Bhubaneswar and it voted – like the previous six – not to allow mining on the slopes of hills for religious and cultural reasons.
Once all 12 gram sabha meetings have taken place, the result would be forwarded to the Union environment and forest ministry, which will make the final decision.
In April, the Indian Supreme Court ruled that the decision of the gram sabhas would be crucial in terms of whether mining could go ahead or not.
Back in 2004, Vedanta signed a memorandum of understanding with the Odisha Mining Corporation, which included the supply of 78Mt of bauxite from OMC to Vedanta’s Lanjigarh alumina refinery.
All 12 gram sabhas are to be completed by August 19th. Seven are being held in Rayagada and five in the Kalahandi district of Odisha.