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New Delhi: Setting a rule of sorts, environment minister M Veerappa Moily has made it clear that a green nod will not be given to a project that is opposed by local panchayats.

He made this clear against the backdrop of rejection of clearance to London-based Vedanta Resources Plc’s $1.7-billion bauxite mining project in Niyamgiri in Odisha.

“I have rejected the Niyamgiri because all the panchayats have rejected the proposal... When the panchayats reject, we cannot go ahead with it. We have made a rule that if the Panchayats (reject), we cannot (grant clearance)," Moily said in an interview.

Asked whether he was setting a precedent, the environment minister said, “I cannot help."

Moily had last week rejected Vedanta’s proposal to mine the Niyamgiri hills after 12 village councils of Dongriya Kondh tribal groups opposed the project in their forests.

The Supreme Court had recently stalled the project till gram sabhas of Rayagada and Kalahandi districts in the state give clearance to it. The court had directed the gram sabhas of the two districts to decide in three months the issues arising out of the mining project, including that of the tribals residing in the area.

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