Five persons, including a college principal, have been arrested for allegedly instigating villagers against bauxite mining at Kodingamali hill in Odisha’s Koraput district. According to police, the principal, Biju Muduli of Laxmipur Degree College, used to hold regular meetings with the villagers and instigate them to launch an agitation against mining operations at Kodingamali hill in Laxmipur block of the district.
Mining at Kodingamali came to a halt on April 13 after some villagers torched a tipper of the company engaged in mining activities and the police arrested Champi panchayat samiti member Balabhadra Muduli in this connection. Opposing the arrest of Muduli, some villagers had stopped mining and launched a stir demanding establishment of a bauxite refinery, hospital, safe drinking water facility, electrification of the villages with street lights and massive plantation in the area.
The villagers put up road blockades in the mining area at Jholaguda since April 13 and efforts were on to persuade the villagers to lift the blockade to facilitate resumption of mining work, Tapan Rath, Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) of Laxmipur, said. “On several occasions, we tried to pacify the agitating villagers and urged them to lift the blockade but to no avail. It was found that the five persons, who were arrested on Tuesday, were behind the agitation as they used to instigate the agitating villagers by holding regular meetings,” the SDPO said.
According to officials, the Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) has obtained the mining lease on around 428 hectare of Kodingamali hill and had started preliminary work. Meanwhile, a large number of residents of at least 20 villages in Laxmipur block, who are supporting the mining operation, submitted a memorandum to the district administration last week demanding resumption of mining at the earliest. The villagers said as hundreds of families used to eke out a living from mining activities, they had lost their livelihood after mining work stopped in the area.