The Dongria Kondhs of Kunakeda in Kalahandi district on Wednesday declared that worshipping their presiding deity, Niyamraja, was their birthright and no force on earth could snatch away their religious right.

Repeating the trend witnessed in other palli (gram) sabhas held as per the Supreme Court directive to find out whether mining in Nayamgiri hills was against their religious beliefs, the fourth gram sabha held at Kunakeda near here on Wednesday, amid tight security, adopted a unanimous resolution opposing bauxite mining in Niyamgiri hills by the Orissa Mining Corporation and Vedanta.

Hit by Maoist activity

Of 22 adults, 21 spoke against mining. This was the fourth gram sabha among 12 notified by the Odisha Government in Kalahandi and Rayagada district. All the areas are hit by Maoist activity.

As Kunakeda is a hilltop village, the judge had to reach there by trekking and riding a motorcycle. Additional District Judge Pramod Kumar Jena had to be escorted by a medical team.

Putting at rest the speculation in the local media that a helicopter would be engaged to take the judges to take part in the gram sabhas, Rayagada District Collector Sashi Bhusan Padhi told The Hindu that there was no such plan. “We have no other option. Judges have to trek some inaccessible villages. We are sending medical teams to accompany them in the event of any need,” he said.

Charge against NGOs

On continuation of the trend in all the gram sabhas by adopting unanimous resolutions against bauxite mining in Niyamgiri hills, president of Lanjigarh Anchalik Vikash Parishad Sridhar Pesnia alleged that all the villagers who had opposed bauxite mining were being misled by the campaign launched by several NGOs at the behest of multinationals opposed to London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc.

The holding gram sabhas in select villages instead of 112 affected by proposed mining in Niyamgiri has raised a controversy in Odisha.

Lokshakti Abhiyan president Prafulla Samantara said the Odisha Government was hand-in-glove with Vedanta in trying to betray the purpose of holding gram sabhas, which had to decide religious right over Niyamgiri as directed by the Supreme Court.

“Having gram sabha in 12 villages instead of 112 is illegal under the Forest Rights Act 2006. At the same time, the adoption of resolutions unanimously in all gram sabhas held so far has vindicated our stand that the locals are opposed to mining,” he said.

Fourth grab sabha also opposes bauxite minig in Niyamgiri hills