TNN | May 23, 2013, 11.52 AM IST

BHUBANESWAR: Governor S C Jamir on Wednesday took stock of the steps the state government has taken since the April 18 Supreme Court order on proposed mining in Niyamgirihills, official sources said.

A government team, including secretaries of SC, ST welfare, forest and steel and mines departments, met Jamir at Raj Bhavan here and appraised him of various issues pertaining to the bauxite-rich Niyamgiri hills, spread over Kalahandi and Rayagada districts, sources informed.

The governor, sources revealed, had called the government officers in the wake of a letter from Union tribal affairs minister Kishore Chandra Deo describing Vedanta group’s bid to mine Niyamgiri ‘illegal’ as it violates constitutional safeguards for scheduled areas. “Vedanta is a private company. Signing an MoU with Vedanta to mine was absolutely wrong. It goes against the spirit of Schedule V of the Constitution,” Deo said, questioning state-owned Odisha Mining Corporation’s joint venture with Vedanta to mine Niyamgiri.

Deo’s observations followed SC’s directive to the state government to let gram sabhas decide on individual, community, cultural and religious rights of STs and traditional forest dwellers within three months.

State ST, SC welfare secretary Sontosh Sarangi said they informed the governor about various steps the government has initiated to implement the court ruling. “We have written to the Orissa high court Chief Justice to appoint a district judge rank judicial officer to attend the gram sabhas as an observer. We would also write to district collectors of Kalahandi and Rayagada to give the gram sabhas six weeks to decide,” Sarangi told TOI.

Official sources said because time was lost in receiving the SC judgment and getting legal opinion, the state government might move the court explaining the need to allow six more weeks to implement the order.

The government has identified 12 villages where gram sabhas would be held, sources added.