12th gram sabha says no to Vedanta mining

The Anil Agarwal-controlled Vedanta Alumina’s plans to mine bauxite from Niyamgiri hills.

Written by Debabrata Mohanty | Bhubaneswar | Published: August 20, 2013 1:58 am

The Anil Agarwal-controlled Vedanta Alumina’s plans to mine bauxite from Niyamgiri hills on the borders of Kalahandi and Rayagada districts received a major jolt after the 12th Gram Sabha voted against allowing the company to dig up the mountain,jeopardising its Rs 50,000-crore investment in the State.

At the Gram Sabha in Jorpa village in Rayagada district,12 of the 16 eligible Dongaria Kondh tribal voters Monday vetoed Vedanta’s plans saying the entire hill range was their God. Wanjelika Jambu,a Jorpa tribal,told the Gram Sabha that it is the hills which sustained them for so long and would do so in years to come. “The hill is our God. If you want to mine the hills,then you can do so over our bodies,” said Jambu.

Jorpa was among the 12 villages chosen by the Orissa tribal development department for holding Gram Sabha after the apex court on April 18 asked the State to determine the religious rights of tribals on the mountains.

Orissa tribal development secretary Santosh Sarangi said collectors of Kalahandi and Rayagada would compile proceedings of all the 12 meetings. “Once we get all proceedings and recordings,the same would be sent to the MoEF for a final decision,” said Sarangi.

Tribal Affairs Ministry may not send team

New Delhi: With the 12th gram sabha on Monday rejecting the Vedanta Aluminium proposal to mine Niyamgiri hills,the Tribal Affairs Ministry may decide against sending the team it constituted to assess claims in villages beyond the 12 picked in Rayagada and Kalahandi districts. According to ministry officials,with all 12 gram sabhas voting against the proposal,it will decide on sending a team “depending on further developments”. ENS

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