MAC: Mines and Communities

Tribals’ protest against Vedanta

Published by MAC on 2005-12-05

Tribals’ protest against Vedanta

5th December 2005

Statesman News Service BHUBANESWAR. Hundreds of tribals from Rayagada and Kalahandi districts today staged a demonstration in front of the Assembly urging the state government to shelve the proposed alumina plant and bauxite mining project in Lanjigarh area in compliance with the recommendation of the Central Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court.

They threatened to continue their movement in exchange of their lives till this “anti-people’’ and “anti-environment” project was withdrawn. The Vedanta Alumina Limited, a joint venture company of Sterlite and the state government, is setting up an alumina plant and a mining project in Lanjigarh area, amidst protest from local tribals, environmentalists and Opposition parties.

Dressed in their traditional attire and armed with traditional weapons tribals from the affected areas took out a rally and staged a demonstration in front of the Assembly. The demonstrators were shouting slogans and singing songs in Kui language accompanied by traditional musical instruments.

Leaders of the Niyamgiri Suraksha Abhiyan, which is spearheading the anti-alumina plant agitation, said that the proposed project would not only displace thousands of local tribals, depriving them of their livelihood, it would also destroy the fragile eco system of the Niyamgiri hills.

The Vanshadhara and the Nagabali rivers emerging from the hills would dry up, leading to drying up of the command area. Rich flora and fauna on the hills would vanish. The primitive Dongria Kondh living in the Niyamgairi hills would be greatly affected, they alleged.

The state government has shown undue favours by allowing the Vedanta company to set up an alumina plant and leasing out the bauxite mines in violation of forest laws despite protest from local Dongria Kondhs, they alleged adding that the company and the state government had initiated repressive measures on the agitating tribals. Despite the Central Empowered Committee’s recommendation to stop the project, the state government was forcibly carrying on land acquisition and conniving with the company in its illegal activities, charged the tribals.

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