Environmental activist addresses rally of tribals

State urged to encourage more small-scale food processing units

KORAPUT: Companies responsible for environmental degradation in the State have invested a large amount of money to help candidates win the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections, Praful Samantra, environmental activist from Bhubaneswar, said here on Friday. He was addressing a rally of tribals on the occasion of ‘World Environment Day’. Now it was feared that they would pressure governments to prevent the Forest Rights Act from being implemented in its true spirit as the act if gets implemented in its totality would go against the very companies who wish to grab most of the valuable piece of land especially in places like Koraput, Kalahandi, Bolangir and other underdeveloped regions of the State, he said.

Looking at these concerns of people who faced the danger of losing basic livelihood opportunities, the Government should put a ban on any mining activities in Deomali, Maliparvat , Kodingamali, Bafilimali and Sadubohumali mountains in Koraput district, he said.

Scores of streams flow from these mountains and once these were mined there would not be any water source left for people and even Kolab river would lose its source of water, he said.

Thousands of tribals representing different anti-displacement unions like Deomali Surakhya Sangram Parishad, Maliparvat Surakhya Samiti, Koraput Zilla Basachyut Mahasangh along with members of Paraja Sangh , Kuvi Sangh, Gadaba Sangh, Koraput Zilla Banavasi Sangh from all across the district took out a huge rally in the district headquarter before submitting a memorandum to the district Collector in this regard.

Tribal leaders demanded speedy implementation of Forest Rights Act-2006 and issue of land pattas for tribals. They urged the district administration to create new forests in the devastated land through participation and ownership of the community. Rather than promoting mining, efforts were needed to establish more small-scale food processing units while supporting the cultivation of fruits in the region starting from Niyamgiri to Deomali mountain range, the leaders said in the memorandum.