Thousands of Dongria Kondh tribals and peasants took out a rally at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district of Odisha on Thursday demanding complete dismantling of the closed down alumina plant of the Vedanta Alumina Limited (VAL) in the area.
Tribals from Kalahandi and Rayagada districts participated in the rally, held under the banner of the Niyamgiri Surakshya Samity (NSS).
About 40 leaders of various democratic movements took part in the rally.
They included peasants’ activist Lingaraj Azad, president of the National Forest Workers’ Federation Ashok Choudhury and convener of the National Alliance of People’s Movements Prafulla Samantra.
Local MLA Sivaji Majhi was also present.
NSS president Kumuti Majhi presided over the meeting, which was addressed by Dongria Kondh leader Lada Sikaka.
The Lanjigarh refinery of the VAL was closed down on Wednesday as the company had run out of bauxite ore.
NSS activists demanded that the plant be not allowed to run as it “posed a threat to the environment and livelihood of the people.”
They feared that attempts could be made to permit bauxite mining again in future.
Speakers at the meeting alleged that the VAL had taken up refinery expansion without proper clearances.
They vowed to resist any attempt by the Odisha government to grant mining lease to the VAL in other parts of the State for its Lanjigarh plant.
They lashed out at the Naveen Patnaik government for pleading the case of the VAL in court.
The activists alleged that the claims of the VAL and the government on employment generation were false.
The VAL had appointed about 600 permanent and 1,500 temporary employees in its refinery.
Of them, only 12 locals were permanent employees, Mr. Samantra said.