In a historic move in April 2013, the Supreme Court of India gave this remote tribe the right to decide if mining would affect their cultural and religious rights. The Odisha government chose 12 villages that it considered would be affected by mining. Local environmental and political activist groups count the number of villages to be affected as 112.
Over a period of two monsoon months, tribals from all villages gathered at gram sabhas (village meetings presided by a legal judge) to vote and to voice their opinions against the mining project that would destroy not only the culture and way of life of a centuries’ old community but would also, destroy thousands of endangered animals and plant species that call these hills, home. In a landslide victory, every member of all 12 villages voted unanimously against Vedanta and successfully claimed the Niyamgiri Hill range as their territorial right.