Insisting that the 2013 gram sabha decision denying Vedanta a chance to mine bauxite in Niyamgiri was still valid, Dongaria Kondh tribals on Tuesday said if the Odisha government did not back down from its idea of holding another gram sabha, it would lead to violence.
“We Dongaria Kondh tribals would never leave Niyamgiri. If the government conspires to hold another gram sabha we would oppose it tooth and nail. If it leads to violence we are ready for it,” said Lado Sikaka, president of Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, referring to the state government’s petition in Supreme Court for holding a gram sabha second time in Niyamgiri.
In April 2013, a two-member Supreme Court Bench, while disposing of a petition by Odisha Mining Corporation had ordered that the gram sabhas will take a final decision on whether mining would affect their religious, cultural and other rights or not.
The gram sabhas held in 12 villages in Niyamgiri in 2013 rejected the mining proposal, throwing a spanner in Vedanta’s plans of mining the hills.
Sikaka, who along with other fellow Dongaria Kondhs, had come to Bhubaneswar to petition Governor S C Jamir against the state government’s move of holding a second gram sabha, demanded that the government withdraw the petition immediately.
“A public apology should be sent to all the 12 villages. The undemocratic attitude of approaching the Supreme Court for subverting the grassroots democracy should be rejected by the Governor,” he said.