MAC: Mines and Communities

Agitation begins against Vedanta refinery, 45 arrested

Published by MAC on 2007-06-16

Agitation begins against Vedanta refinery, 45 arrested

by Kalinga Times

16th June 2007

Bhawanipatna: As many as 45 persons were arrested as thousands of people blocked different roads leading to the alumina refinery complex of Vedanta Alumina Limited at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district of Orissa on Saturday.

The protestors were booked hours after activists of Green Kalahandi and leaders and workers of different Opposition parties blocked the roads at 10 different locations in the district raising slogans against the one million tonne per annum capacity alumina project.

The agitation is being led by Green Kalahandi, an organisation formed under the chairmanship of former Union Minister Bhakta Charan Das to oppose the alumina refinery.

The four Opposition parties - Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India and Orissa Gana Parishad - had recently announced to participate in the road blockade agitation opposing commissioning of the refinery that had plans to source bauxite ore from Niyamgiri hills at Lanjigarh.

While continuing the blockades at several places, Green Kalahandi activists have announced to organise road bock agitations at many other locations on Sunday.

The peacefully agitation christened Satyagraha against Vedanta project will continue till Wednesday, according to Das.

As Vedanta Alumina authorities remained tightlipped about the fresh round of protests against their project, the district administration sources said the agitation had affected the company's procurement of bauxite ore from distant places.

They, however, countered the claim of the agitating people that water supply to the refinery from Tel River near Kesinga had been blocked. The ongoing trial production of alumina at the refinery was continuing without interruption, they said.

Despite the fact that construction of the refinery had been completed and trial production was going on for the past several months, Green Kalahandi and Opposition parties are now making a last ditch effort to highlight their demand that the project be shelved and the company should not be allowed .

While the company was awaiting a verdict from the Supreme Court with regard to its plans to extract bauxite from the Niyamgiri hills in association with the Orissa Mining Corporation, the protestors are demanding that mining of Niyamgiri hills should not be allowed at cost.

Allowing the company to mine Niyamgiri will prove disastrous for the region's environment and people's livelihood sources as two rivers and a number of streams had originated from the hills that was home to the people belonging to the primitive Dongaria Kondh tribe.

The Opposition parties have also alleged that the Naveen Patnaik Government was out to show all sorts of favours to the company.


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