The Supreme Court’s decision to let gram sabhas decide the fate of Vedanta’s Niyamgiri mining project will make it difficult for the government to divert forestland for industry without the consent of tribals and local population.

The apex court’s ruling on Thursday puts gram sabhas or village assemblies virtually at par with statutory and regulatory bodies, and gives a broader prism of rights to indigenous communities by defining the Forest Rights Act as more than just heritable property rights.