Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Tribals plan to stop Vedanta vehicles

Date:12/01/2009 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2009/01/12/stories/2009011255210800.htm

Other States - Orissa

Tribals plan to stop Vedanta vehicles

Staff Reporter

Niyamgiri Bachao Samity conducts meet


Meeting also attended by other activists supporting the agitation

Over 7,000 primitive Dongria Kondh tribals live in the region


BERHAMPUR: Members of the Niyamgiri Bachao Samity (NBS) on Sunday held a meeting at Sakata under Muniguda block in Rayagada district to plan their future plans to oppose mining in the Niyamgiri hills in south Orissa.

Around 1,000 delegates from villages to be affected by proposed mining in the Niyamgiri hills from Lanjigarh block of Kalahandi district and Bisamkatak, Muniguda, Kalyansinghpur blocks of Rayagad district participated in the meeting. Most of them were members of Dongria Kondh community, one of the ancient tribes of the country.

The tribals decided to stop entry of vehicles and officials of both Government and Vendanta Alumina Limited (VAL) into the Niyamgiri area. “We have also vowed not to allow construction of new roads in the remote Niyamgiri area which will facilitate mining in the region at the cost of the environment,” said Dongria tribal leader Jitendra Jakesika. The NBS has decided to hold a large tribal rally at Muniguda in the second week of February as a show of strength against the proposed mining in Niyamgiri area.

This meeting was also attended by environmental activist, Praful Samantra, Samjawadi Janparishad leader Lingaraj Azad and CPI-ML (New Democracy) leader, Bhala Chandra Sarangi, who have extended support to the agitation.

The Niyamgiri hill range houses dense forests, wild animals with ample bio-diversity. As per the official records 7,987 primitive Dongria Kondh tribals live in this region. From this region emerge the Rushikulaya and Nagavali rivers of south Orissa. It may be noted that the VAL is setting up an alumina refinery at an estimated investment of over Rs. 4,000 crores in Orissa. The construction of refinery unit is complete.

This refinery is to depend on ores mined from Niyamgiri region. But the mining has been delayed due to court cases and protest by green activists

The legal stumbling blocks in the path of mining in the region have got removed. Yet the stiff opposition of the locals of around 104 tribal villages to be affected by this controversial mining project has prevented start of mining work. Since Nov 10 last year the tribals have not allowed the VAL officials to enter the region and start construction of wider road for movement of heavy vehicles needed for mining work.

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