The hopes of Vedanta Aluminium faded further on Tuesday after the first non-tribal village among the 12 where pallisabhas are being held rejected the proposal to mine Niyamgiri hills for bauxite.
At Tadijhola,a small village in Lanjigarh block of Kalahandi district located on the foothills of Niyamgiri,the 19 Goudas (belonging to Other Backward Caste) unanimously rejected the proposal. The Goudas are traditional forest dwellers as per the Forest Rights Act.
Entire Niyamgiri is ours. We cant leave Niyamgiri, said Sulochana Gouda,a villager present in todays meeting. We cant allow Vedanta to mine the hills. We want Vedanta to be thrown out of Kalahandi. Or else we will burn the plant, said Kandha Gouda,another villager.
Gajendra Gouda,another villager,said,Niyam Raja is the presiding deity of the area. No one can separate us from Niyamgiri. Mining in the hill will rob us of our livelihood.
Kumuti Majhi,convener of Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti,said the pallisabha in rest of the nine villages will also echo the same anti-Vedanta sentiment.
On July 18 and July 22,Serkapadi and Kesarpadi villages in Rayagada district had voted against mining the hill.
Kalahandi additional district judge (vigilance) P K Jena supervised the proceedings as CRPF and State police forces kept watch on the proceedings from nearby hills. Tribals from more than 20 villages in the area attended the pallisabha meeting.
Todays pallisabha was significant as the company was hoping that Tadijhola,the only non-tribal village among the 12 villages,may opt for mining. Whatever chances the company had from this village were dashed. Even we were surprised at the unanimous rejection, said Siddharth Nayak of Green Kalahandi,a local NGO. On July 24 and 25,two more pallisabhas would be held at Kunakadu and Palberi villages of Kalahandi.