The result of India's first environment referendum is known. A dozen Dongria Kondh village councils in the eastern state of Odisha have rejected proposals by Vedanta Resources, the London Stock Exchange-listed mining company, to quarry the bauxite-rich Niyamgiri hills. The councils, or gram sabhas, cite gross violation of their religious and cultural rights.
The tussle over the Niyamgiri hills between Vedanta, an $11.4bn multinational, and the 8,000-strong Dongria Kondh community has spanned a decade. The Kondhs, who live in the forests, believe the mountain range is sacred and that their god, Niyam Raja, provides them with food, water and a way of life.
"We get almost everything from the mountain," says Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, president of the resistance group Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti (the Save Niyamgiri Foundation). "All we need from the government is salt, kerosene. The government should spare our culture."
On 18 April, India's supreme ...