Satyanarayan Patnaik & Riyan Ramanath V, TNN May 19, 2013, 0

Koraput/BHUBANESWAR: The Niyamgiri Surakshya Samiti (NSS), an organization fighting against bauxite mining at Lanjigarh by Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL), is out to woo tribals to rally for its cause. During its campaign, the samiti organized meetings at villages in Kalyansinghpur and Muniguda blocks of Rayagada district and Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district.
Vedanta’s one mtpa alumina refinery closed down on December 5 following acute shortage of bauxite. “Tribals are being made aware of the ill-effects of mining at Niyamgiri hills. The villagers are being urged to participate in the meetings to oppose mining at Niyamgiri,” said advisor to the samiti Bhala Chandra Sarangi.

He said 104 villages in and around the Niyamgiri hills will be covered during the five-day campaign. “On the first day, our teams covered 23 villages. We hope to cover all villages before May 22 when a massive rally of the Dongria Kondhs will be held at Muniguda,” Sarangi said.

Samiti members said at least 36 streams and Nagabali and Bansadhara rivers originate from Niyamgiri hills and mining will dry these up.

The Supreme Court on its April 18 order had left it to the villagers to decide the fate of the Vedanta’s mining project at the gram sabha. The gram sabha will examine the mining proposals, community, individual as well as cultural and religious claims by the Dongria tribes and other forest dwellers. It will also examine the tribal’s rights of worship over the Niyamgiri hills. A spokesperson of VAL, however, said according to para-62 of the SC direction, there should be no prior activities to mould the villagers before the gram sabha.