A OST Bureau Report
The fifth gram sabha held in Palbari in Kalahandi district over bauxite mining atop Niyamgiri hill was a mere repeat of the four Gram Sabhas held earlier on the issue with all the 14 members including 7 women present in the meeting rejecting the mining proposal in the ‘sacred’ hill because that would “adversely affect their religious and cultural rights”.
Thursday’s gram sabha at Palbari was the fi fth and third in Kalahandi district. Four gram sabhas have already been held held at Kunakadu, Tadijhola in Kalahandi district and at Serkapadi and Kesarpadi villages in Rayagada district.
However, the local pro-Vedanta outfit, Lanjigarh Vikas Parishad has taken strong exception to the presence of the Congress MP Bhakta Charan Das at the venue of the gram sabha. “The Kalahandi MP was not only present along with supporters in the gram sabha held at Palbari in Lanjigarh block but he was actually sitting on the dais,” Lanjigarh Vikash Parishad President Shridhar Pesnia said in a statement.
“This is not only a blatant case of interference but also raises the basic question of the legal validity of the gram sabha which is becoming a farce,” Pesnia said.
The next two gram sabhas are scheduled to be held in Fuldumer and Ijurupa village on July 29 and 30.