Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Rayagada, Jun 17:
Dongria kondh tribals in Kalahandi and Ryagada districts of Odisha today demanded the complete withdrawal of Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (VAL) from the area since the palli sabhas held under the directive of the Supreme Court had already given their verdict against mining of bauxite in the Niyamgiri hills.
Hundreds of Dongria kondh men and women residing in 80 odd villages atop the Niyamgiri hills gathered at a meeting organized by the Niyamgiri Surakshya Samiti (NSS) at Sakata village at the base of the hills under Muniguda block in Rayagada district accusing VAL’s Lanjigarh refinery of causing damage to the environment of Niyamgiri hills. They alleged that the sound and air pollution caused by the company’s refinery had affected the lives and livelihoods of the tribals residing atop the hills.
The Niyamgiri Surakshya Samiti wondered why the government was not asking the VAL to move out of the area since palli sabhas held under the directive of the Supreme Court on mining in Niyamgiri hills had already rejected the proposal.
Dongria kondhs at the meeting warned that they would take law into their own hands if the government failed to take any action in this regard.
“Sound and air pollution and the glow of halogen lights have driven out birds and animals from these hills. Pollution from the plant has affected both the size and quality of fruits growing in these hills. They have shrunken in size and don’t taste the same anymore. Moreover, leaves are covered with a thin film of ash and other pollutants released into the air by the refinery. Since it hasn’t got mines, the factory here should be shut down,” said Lingaraj, convener, Niyamgiri Surakshya Samiti.
“The factory should go. Niyamgiri mines should go. Then only we can live in peace. Only after Lanjigarh factory is shifted shall our people live in peace and our hills, lands, water and air will survive. That’s why we have taken up to agitation,” said Lado Sikka, Secretary, Niyamgiri Surakshya Samiti.