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Odisha- Gram sabha ball set to roll for Vedanta bid to mine at Niyamgiri Hills

Kondh Lady

Gram sabha ball set to roll

Satyanarayan Pattnaik & Sandeep Mishra, TNN | Jun 1, 2013, 01.20 AM IST

BHUBANESWAR/ KORAPUT: Adhering to the Supreme Court‘s order to conduct gram sabhas to decide the fate of Vedanta bid to mine bauxite at hills, the state government would on Saturday serve notices to hold such meetings in 12 villages of Rayagada and Kalahandi districts, official sources said.The decision to issue notification seeking receipt of objections from tribals residing at the 12 villages followed the Orissa high court appointing the district judges of and to act as observers to oversee proceedings of the gram sabhas in their respective villages, which are located on the Niyamgiri hill slope.

“The high court has communicated to us its decision to nominate the district judges of Rayagada and Kalahandi to oversee the proceedings in their respective districts,” secretary, ST and SC welfare, Sontosh Sarangi told TOI on Friday.

The Supreme Court, in its April 18 ruling, said a judicial officer of the rank of a district judge should serve as an observer during the gram sabhas. The apex court had directed that gram sabhas be held within three months to examine the community, individual as well as cultural and religious claims of the Dongria Kondh.

The state government has selected five villages (Tadijhola, Palberi, Phuldumer, Ijurpa and Kunakado) in Kalahandi and seven villages (Jarapa, Khambesi, Kesarpadi, Batudi, Serakapadi, Lakhapadar and Lamba) in Rayagada to conduct palli sabhas. Rejecting certain activists’ allegations that the government chose the villages at random, a senior officer said these villages lie on the hill slope and the government had informed the SC about it on December 6, 2012, through an affidavit. “Nobody had raised any objection about them then and it was in the context of that affidavit that the final judgment came,” the officer said.

“This is the first phase of conducting palli sabha (gram sabha). On Saturday, notices in both Odia and Kui languages will be served to the tribals residing at the seven villages in our district. They will be given six weeks to submit their objections, if any, before the palli sabha is held,” said collector (Rayagada) Sashi Bhusan Padhi.

“The required forms to be distributed among tribals have been printed in Odia and Kui and the officers will read out the notice before each household. The officials will also use loud speakers to announce the purpose of the palli sabha at the respective villages. Hoardings of the notice will also be put on at the villages. The entire process will be video recorded. Besides, the notice will also be published in local dailies for wider publicity,” Padhi added.

Official sources said a similar process would be followed in Kalahandi. The tribals after filling up the forms will submit them at the respective forest right committee, which will be present at the palli sabha. After six weeks, starting June 1, in consultation with the concerned district judge, dates for the palli sabha will be announced, officials added.

’s one MTPA alumina refinery at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi has been closed since December 5 following acute shortage of bauxite.

 

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