Public hearing for environmental clearance for proposed mining and refinery project of RSB Metaltech in Rayagada district faced stiff opposition of tribal people on Thursday.

The public hearing is being held at Tumbibeda of Kalyansinghpur block. But the tribal people who are protesting against the project demolished the makeshift pandal that had been erected for the public hearing.

According to Rayagada district administration adequate security arrangements have been made at the village for the purpose. But the ire of tribal people proved stronger.

Hundreds of tribal people reached the spot shouting slogans asking why this public hearing is being held when they are not ready to hand over their land for the project. They demanded the administration to first issue land pattas to them under Forest Rights Act and provide basic amenities for agriculture.

Several other social activists of Rayagada district led by convener of Rayagada district unit of Lokshakti Abhiyan Sumanta Parida and convener of Sashu Bohu Mali Surakshya Samity, Nabin Nayak also protested against the proposed project of the RSB saying this project would hamper the flow of water in the Jhanjabati river.

Environmental activist and State convener of Lok Shakti Abhiyan Prafulla Samantra said since past two weeks agents of the company were trying to suppress the genuine opposition of tribal people against the project through brute force and money power.

“From the incident at Kalyansinghpur at least they must have understood that tribal people have become aware of their rights regarding their life and livelihood”, said Mr. Samantra.

He alleged that some nefarious elements who according to him have links with the company had tried to attack him on October 20 while he was moving around the area making people aware of the environmental hazards of the proposed alumina project and rights of tribal people regarding their land.

He alleged that the ‘gramasabhas' that were conducted for the mining and refinery project of RSB Metaltech are illegal.

He also added that efforts are on to divide the tribal and dalits of the area through some violent means so that the company may gain from it. Through a letter to the district Collector, Mr. Samnatra urged to stop the process of land acquisition.

He suggested that the administration should initiate provision of land pattas to the tribal people under Forest Righst Act . The environmental activists say the tribal people living in Sashu Bohu Mali hill are yet to get their legal rights over the land used by them under the Forest Rights Act.

Yet the State government has signed up MoU with the company for mining in the area. Consent of local tribal people was not taken before signing of the MoU.

These environmental activists are of the opinion that the proposed mining by RSB Metaltech in Rayagada district would drastically affect the environment and flow of water in Jhanjavati river.