Koraput, Jan 10:
Twenty two vehicles were damaged as pro and anti mining groups clashed at Mali Parbat over bauxite mining in the hills on Friday.
Sources said around two hundred men ransacked the mining contractor’s office.
Section 144 has been clamped in the area and two platoons of police force have been deployed at the mining site to maintain law and order, said police sources.
The agitators, mostly tribals drawn from about 40 villages in Sorishapodar, Hundi, Dalaiguda and Pakhajhola panchayats in Similiguda block, have been opposing mining in the hillsunder the banner of The Mali Parbat Surakhya Samiti.
In December last year, they had threatened to intensify their stir, if Hindalco went ahead with its plan of resuming bauxite mining at Mali Parbat. The mine used to feed the company’s aluminium plant at Renukoot in Uttar Pradesh. After mining raw bauxite from the hills, the company used to transport it to a depot near Tentuliguda and from there to its alumina factory in Uttar Pradesh.
Spread over 270 acres, the hill has around 17 million tonnes bauxite reserve with ores containing 44 percent of alumina.
The mine stopped operation in 2010 in the wake of stiff opposition from the locals. Though bauxite excavation resumed for a brief period in 2012, it had to be halted as protesters opposed transportation of the mineral.
MPSS, a local outfit which has been spearheading the agitation, has threatened to boycott the upcoming state and general elections if the state government did not cancel the mining lease.
The agitators complained that water sources from Mali Parbat feed their farmlands and mining of bauxite from the hills would lead to their disappearance depriving them of their livelihoods.
Hindalco was granted lease for bauxite mining at Mali Parbat near Doliamba, about 20 km from Semiliguda, in November 2007. The company obtained the lease for 20 years with an approved mining plan of 6 lakh tonnes per annum. The actual mining activities started through a contractor engaged by the company in May 2008.
Between 2008 and 2011, the company has transported around 18,000 tonnes of bauxite to its alumina refinery, sources said.