Staff Reporter

Dongria Kandh tribals stage demo against Vedanta project

Youths in villages collecting funds to continue the movement against mining

State government charged with adopting coercive tactics to suppress agitation

BHUBANESWAR: Green activists and members of Dongria Kandh tribes on Monday declared to continue their agitation to prevent Vedanta Alumina Limited (VAL) from mining the Niyamgiri Hill. They also announced that Supreme Court’s green signal to the company would have no impact on the ongoing agitation and villagers resolved to intensify their movement. Activists and a few Dongria Kandh tribals staged a demonstration here protesting the VAL’s project which was coming up at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district.

“No person having conscience will accept the verdict. The Dongrias have rejected it. For them Niyamgiri is everything including a secured source of livelihood,” said anti-displacement and left leaders addressing the gathering here.

They said Niyamgiri housed 7,987 primitive dongria tribes and the hill range was also known for its rich biodiversity, dense forest, wild animals and perennial water streams that lead to formation of two big rivers of South Orissa.

VAL is setting up an alumina refinery plant with an estimated investment of over Rs. 4,000 crores.

While construction of refinery unit has already been completed, mining on Niyamgiri could not be taken up due to delay in disposal of court cases and protest by green activists.

“No mining will be allowed on Niyamgiri Hill, which has around 112 villages. Mining will bring along whole lot of destructions,” Jitu Jakesika of Niyamgiri Surakhya Yuba Bahini said.

He said youths from different villages were now collecting funds to build the movement on their own. “We will do everything to protect the hill. Youths have pledged to lay down their lives for sake of the livelihood,” Mr. Jakesika said.

Activists also charged the State government and corporate houses with adopting coercive tactics to suppress anti-displacement movements in different parts of the State, including at Kalinga Nagar, POSCO project area near Paradip, Kashipur and Lanjigarh.

Radhakant Sethi of CPI-ML Liberation, Prafulla Samantra of Loka Shakti Abhijan, Bhalachandra of CPI-ML New Democracy, Lingaraj of Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Sivram of CPI-ML, Prasant Paikray of Loka Pakhya and Ragunath Das of SUCI addressed the gathering.