Dongria Kondh tribals of Niyamgiri area alleged that the Odisha government and Vedanta Alumina Limited (VAL) were now trying hard to get gram sabha decisions in favour of proposal of bauxite mining in Niyamgiri hills.
This allegation was made during a rally and public meeting at Munikhol near Muniguda in Rayagada district on Wednesday. They also demanded that gram sabha be held in all the villages of Niyamgiri hills rather than at 12 villages as proposed by the government.
Addressing the public meeting the tribals and the leaders opposing VAL’s mining plans in Nyamgiri area demanded that the Supreme Court allow extra time to the Odisha government regarding holding of gram sabha meetings in Niyamgiri area.
They were of the opinion that once rains began tribals would be busy with their livelihood and would not be able to attend the meetings.
They also alleged that plans of the State government to hold gram sabha at only 12 places would diminish chances of tribals living in remote areas to express their views.
So, they wanted gram sabha to be held in every village of Niyamgiri area that was to be affected by the proposed bauxite mining project.
This public meeting was addressed by leaders of the NSS like Lada Sikaka, Dadhi Pusika, Bari Pidikaka, Kumuti Majhi, leader of Samajwadi Jan Parishad Lingaraj Azad, president of tribal organisation Lok Sangram Manch (LSM) Kusanath Pradhan, spokesperson of Odisha unit of CPI-ML (New Democracy) Bhala Chandra Sarangi and leader of Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Prafulla Samantra. It may be noted that Mr Samantra was a petitioner against the VAL’s mining project in Niyamgiri area.
This public meeting marked the culmination of three ‘padyatras’ taken up around Niyamgiri hills that had been taken up by Niyamgiri Surakshya Samity (NSS), organisations and leaders opposing mining plans of Vedanta Alumina Limited (VAL) in the area since May 17.
These padyatras aimed at creating awareness in tribal villages in Niyamgiri area so that the tribals would participate in the proposed gram sabha meetings to express their opposition to the mining project.
It may be noted that the Supreme Court has asked the company to go back to the gram sabha for consideration of the Dongria Kondh tribals’ religious and cultural aspects.
As per the directives of the apex court, gram sabhas of Niyamgiri area would look into the religious and cultural aspects of the Dongaria Kondh tribals living in the region.