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Geetanjoy Sahu

In recent years, there has been increasing resistance by tribal communities to various development projects, with particular focus on rights of ownership, control and management of land and resources traditionally held by them. In 2013 the Supreme Court of India gave a landmark order directing the Government of Odisha to seek free and prior consent of the gram sabhas before giving clearance to the Vedanta Company for mining of bauxite in the Niyamgiri Hills of Odisha. In this context, this chapter seeks to examine two important aspects related to mining activities in tribal areas: first, how mining activities, through an aggressive and exploitative mineral policy, have impacted tribal rights in India; second, how effective have the constitutional provisions and statutory acts been in safeguarding tribal rights over the use and management of forest resources vis-à-vis mining activities in forest areas? The Vedanta judgment has many lessons to offer in this regard.