Second village rejects Vedanta mining,Centre to send observers

Niyamgiri COO of Lanjigarh plant refuses to comment on pallisabha rejections

Written by Ruhi Tewari | Bhubaneswar | Published: July 23, 2013 1:51 am

Four days after tribals,in the first pallisabha,unanimously rejected Vedanta Aluminium plan to mine bauxite from Niyamgiri hills,another village has joined the chorus. Of the 36 voters in Kesarpadi village in Rayagada district,33 of them claimed religious and cultural rights on the hills on Monday.

Kutruka Dundu,a Dongaria Kondh tribal of Kesarpadi,said he would prefer giving his life than allowing Vedanta to mine. “The fight would go on,” he said after signing a resolution that claimed that hill is sacred. The villagers also kept a copy of the signed resolution with them.

Rayagada district judge Sarat Chandra Mishra was the independent observer. The next pallisabha would be at Tadijhola and Kunakadu villages of Kalahandi district on Tuesday and Wednesday. The last pallisabha will be held at Jarpa village of Rayagada district on August 19.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) would take a final decision on granting stage II clearance for the Vedanta project after all the 12 pallisabhas decide. If all them say no,then it may become tough for Vedanta to run its Lanjigarh alumina refinery plant and smelter plants at Jharsuguda district.

Meanwhile,the tribal affairs ministry will send a team to observe the pallisabha proceedings. It will comprise ministry officials,a legal expert and two local experts from the civil society. It may also share key ground-level info with the state government.

“Since the ministry has been picked as the nodal agency by the Supreme Court,we will send a team of officials and experts to observe the proceedings,” said Tribal Affairs Minister V Kishore Chandra Deo. The ministry is also planning to write to the MoEF to seek an extention from the court to comply with its direction.

On Monday,the COO of Lanjigarh plant,Dr Mukesh Kumar,met Chief Secretary J K Mohapatra to discuss the issue related to water supply to the plant. He however refused to comment on the pallisabha rejections. He said he has presented the company’s views on ore supply to the inter-ministerial group (IMG) of the state government in February.

“I hear that the committee has submitted its report recently. We have submitted that we be given some closed bauxite mines to operate. Even Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) can be given the same and we would take the ore from OMC. We have also filed application for mining from 25-26 small mines. Hopefully IMG would have considered that,” he said.

The Lanjigarh plant reopened on July 11 and is now running at 60 per cent of its capacity due to poor supply.

Meanwhile,sources at the Orissa Governor office said the Governor has written to the State government questioning its decision to limit the pallisabhas to only 12 of the Niyamgiri villages.

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