Answer from Praveen Bhargav, Managing Trustee, Wildlife First: For any mining project (like Vedanta) there are two clearance procedures that need to be complied with. One is the Environment clearance process under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and the other under the Forest (Conservation) Act,1980. Even though the two are separate processes, the Ministry of Environment has clarified the order of priority, which makes it clear that forest clearance shall be obtained first before the grant of environment clearance. This is also stated in the Guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in the Lafarge Judgment.
With respect to the role of the Gram Sabha, Section 3(2) of the Forest Rights Act only mandates that forest clearance for facilities managed by the Government like schools, dispensary, anganwadis, fair price shops, community centres etc which involve less than one hectare in each case and felling of less than 75 trees, shall be subject to the condition that it is recommended by the Gram Sabha.