Peeved over Naveen Patnaik Government’s fresh bid for bauxite mining in Niyamgiri hills to ensure raw material supply to Vedanta’s alumina refinery in Kalahandi
district, the activists of Niyamgiri Surakshya Samiti have decided to approach the Governor of Odisha to reiterate their opposition to mining in the hills which they consider sacred.
A delegation of the Dongaria Kondhs under the banner of the Surakshya Samiti will shortly meet Governor S.C. Jamir to apprise him of their protest. Subsequently, the agitated tribals will further intensify and strengthen their opposition to the proposal of mining in Niyamgiri.
A two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court on Friday observed that the plea of Odisha Mining Corporation seeking a direction for re-conduct of gram sabhas for mining in Niyamgiri be referred to a three-judge Bench of the court for consideration.
It may be recalled that on April 18, 2013, a two-member Bench of the apex court, while disposing of a petition by OMC, had concluded that it is the gram sabhas/village councils will take a final decision whether mining would affect their religious, cultural and other rights or not as per the Forest Rights Act, 2006.
The gram sabhas were held in 12 villages in Niyamgiri region in 2013 as per the orders of the Supreme Court and all the gram sabhas had rejected the mining proposal.
“There was no need for the State government to approach the Supreme Court. They should have approached the gram sabhas which are supreme even in the view of the Supreme Court,” said Lingaraj Azad, advisor of the Surakshya Samiti on Saturday.
Mr. Azad said the delegation of tribals from the Niyamgiri hills spread over Kalahandi and Rayagada districts will also inform Mr. Jamir about the alleged police repression by way branding innocent tribal people as suspected Maoists and killing them down.
Monda Kadrika, a local youth, was killed in Kalyansinghpur police station area in Rayagada on February 27.
The police had claimed that Kadrika was killed during an exchange of fire between Maoists and security forces, while his family members and villagers said that the 20-year-old youth was falsely implicated as a Maoist.
The victim youth’s bother lodged a complaint with Kalyansinghpur police on Friday alleging that Kadrika was killed in a fake encounter.
The Odisha Human Rights Commission has also sought report after human rights activists approached it seeking a thorough enquiry into the incident.
Criticising the State government’s move on Friday, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee president Prasad Harichandan had demanded that the government should withdraw its petition seeking orders for mining in Niyamgiri.