The prospects for Vedanta’s Niyamgiri mine are looking even more remote as the results of the Palli Sabhas being held on the command of the Supreme Court’s April judgement on the mine, flood in. Five gram sabhas have been held so far in the villages of Serkapadhi, Kesarpadhi, Tadijhola, Kunakadu and Palberi. In all the five villages, villagers have expressed a thundering NO to the proposed mining activity by Vedanta. In one gram sabha after another, the people have unanimously passed resolutions asserting their rights to the whole Niyamgiri range as their sacred mountain. They have made it clear, that they lay claim to the whole mountain range.
In the first gram sabha in Serkapadhi village on 18h July, 2014, Sarat Chandra Mishra the district judge of Rayagada -- in violation of his role as an independent observer in the Supreme Court verdict -- kept directing the people on what they could and could not do. He threatened to call off the meeting when the people pressed Judge Mishra to reject the joint verification report conducted by local revenue and forest officials. This report, the villagers accused which tries to limit the territory of worship and habitat of the Dongria tribe to specific demarcated areas, and that they were duped into signing it. In fact, Judge Mishra's true colours, and his clear partiality was revealed completely when he raised his voice at a tribal who demanded to see a photocopy of the resolution they were being asked to sign saying: “You are acting too smart despite being illiterate. If you had some education you would have sold the country”. This comment led to a lot of uproar during the gram sabha as well as later on when the news spread. Since then, the two appointed judges have have not embroiled themselves in any more controversy, and maintained a neutral public stance during the proceedings.
After Serkapadhi, the gram sabha resolutions by the villagers have rejected the 'joint verification report' by the state government. All the gram sabhas have been held with the deployment of heavy police and security forces. In each gram sabha, people from the nearby villages have come in large numbers to stand in solidarity with the village where the gram sabha is being conducted.