Reported by Chinmaya Dehury/Edited by Swetaparna Mohanty
BHUBANESWAR, July 24: Former Minister and senior Congress leader Niranjan Patnaik today slammed the Odisha Government for going on a MoU signing spree with private companies without a vision, warning that it will affect the long term economic interests of the state and the nation.
“I am not against industrialization. But, while taking up these projects, all aspects including regulatory requirements under the Environmental Law, Forest Rights Act, etc., should have been carefully examined. After creating a complete mess, the State Government is now trying to find out ways for raw material linkage. Why was this not done before signing of MoUs with various parties?” asked Patnaik.
Referring to the agitation of Dongria Kondhs against mining in Niyamgiri hills, he said the BJD government has adopted a policy that they will not hesitate to adopt undemocratic and oppressive measures to crush tribals to fulfil its agenda of favouring corporate biggies, which the government has already done in Kalinga Nagar.
“Without the intervention of the Supreme Court, the state would not have conducted Gram Sabhas. Even after the apex court order, the government was adamant in limiting the Gram Sabhas to 12 villages while Dongria Kondhs live in about 120 villages,” the senior Congress leader said.
“The argument of the state government that Dongria Kondhs from just 12 villages have a right to worship Niyamgiri hills is almost like arguing that only the people of Puri have a right to worship Lord Jagannath. I do not understand why the state government is so adamant in denying their rights to these poor Adivasis and going against law of the land?” Patnaik queried.
The former industry minister of the state requested Odisha Governor S C Jamir to intervene in the matter and exercise his powers under the Constitution to protect the interests of the tribals.