Speakers demand refinery of Vedanta at Lanjigarh to be closed down

The six-day ‘padayatra' of activists of Niyamgiri Surakhya Samity (NSS) and tribal organisation Lok Sangram Manch (LSM) concluded at Trimayee village near Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district on Tuesday.

These activists walked over 80 kilometres of arduous terrain of Niyamgiri hill to touch more than 40 tribal villages to be affected by the proposed bauxite mining project of Vedanta Alumina Limited (VAL) in Niyamgiri area. They were led by president of NSS Lada Sikaka and LSM leader Haribandhu Kadraka. This ‘padayatra' had started from Muniguda in Rayagada district on May 12. It was an effort to create awareness against the State government's decision to approach Supreme Court advocating bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri region by Vedanta Alumina Limited (VAL) and enliven the tribal agitation continuing against the VAL project.

The ‘padayatra' culminated in a public meeting at Trimayee.

This meeting chaired by tribal leader Dania Bag was attended by president of Mr. Sikaka, Subash Kulusika, Dadi Kusika, Kusanath Pradhan. Social activist Lingaraj Azad was also present in the meeting.

Conspiracy

They alleged that a conspiracy was still on to allow VAL mine Niyamgiri in which political leaders of both the State and Central government were part.

Alleged neglect and betrayal of families already displaced by the VAL alumina project was also an issue in the meeting.

It may be noted that since more than a month a group of persons displaced by the VAL project are sitting on a dharna in front of VAL Alumina refinery at Lanjigarh demanding proper rehabilitation.

All speakers demanded the refinery of Vedanta at Lanjigarh to be closed down. “Functioning of this refinery is illegal as the company is yet to get mining clearance and its functioning can only mean efforts are continuing through dubious means to get mining permission in the area again,” said Mr. Sikaka.

Mr. Azad pointed out the continuing pollution from the red mud pond of the refinery which had become a major menace for Lanjigarh area.

They demanded the State government to withdraw the case filed by the State-owned Orissa Mining Corporation in the Supreme Court against decision of the Union ministry of Environment and Forests to scrap VAL's bauxite mining project in Niyamgiri hills and also wanted the Environment and Forests ministry of the Central government not to initiate any effort to allow mining in the area on any pretext.