Bhubaneswar, Sep 25:
Union minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh today said the state government and Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) should find another place to excavate bauxite to feed the company’s refinery plant located at Lanjigarh as the tribals have already rejected the proposal for mining in the Niyamgiri hills.
“If Odisha is serious about Vedanta’s alumina project, both the state government and VAL should spare Niyamgiri hills and find some mines other than Niyamgiri,” said Ramesh at a press conference here.
The minister, who was here to illustrate the clauses of the Land Acquisition Bill, said “The bauxite reserves in Niyamgiri hill is seven per cent less than the requirement of VAL’s Lanjigarh refinery. I had mentioned it in August 2010, when I was minister for MoEF. Instead of considering my suggestion, the state governrment challenged it in the Supreme Court, which upheld my decision.”
It is to be noted that all 12 Gram Sabhas rejected the proposal of Vedanta to allow mining in the Niyamgiri hills putting a serious question mark over the future of Vedanta’s plant, which is currently running with bauxite sourced from outside the state.
Terming the existing Land Acquisition Act, 1894 as ‘dictatorial, undemocratic and anti-farmer’, Ramesh said that the new Act would empower the people, instead of the district collector, to take a call on whether they want their land to be acquired or not.
Besides, he maintained that Maoists are taking advantage of anti-land acquisition agitations in Odisha and some other states.