Reported by Ranjan Rath:
Rayagada, Dec 21:

Accusing the district administration of being part of a larger conspiracy to hand over the Niyamgiri bauxite mines in south-west Odisha to aluminium major Vedanta, over 500 Dongria Kondhs under the aegis of Niyamgiri Surakshya Samiti protested the move to build a road to the hills they consider sacred at a mass gathering organised here on Saturday.

dongria meet

On December 12, a meeting presided over by the district collector had discussed the construction of a road to the Niyamgiri hills with the aid of Vedanta Alumina Limited (now rechristened as Sesa Sterlite Limited), the tribals alleged.

The move is an attempt to facilitate the handing over of the bauxite mine in the hills, they alleged.

”We are not going to give up at any cost. We won’t allow the district administration or the company to go ahead with their plans,” a member of the Samiti said.

While the district administration claims it has initiated the move for the development of the primitive Dongria Kondhs inhabitating Muniguda, Bisamkatak and Kalyansinghpur blocks in Rayagada, the people have viewed it with suspicion.

The huge gathering led by Niyamgiri Surakshya Samiti’s Lada Sikaka, Dadhi Pushika and Parsali Panchayat Sarpanch Tugu Sikaka questioned the state government’s intention behind such initiative.

Tribals from Parsali, Munikhol and Kurli panchayats participated in the meeting.

It may be recalled here that the Dongrias have been opposing Vedanta’s bauxite mining project at Niyamgiri hills in Lanjigarh.

In June this year, a public hearing meeting had to be abandoned midway after a 300-strong group of tribals barged into the meeting venue and disrupted the proceedings. The Dongria Kondhs protested the public hearing being condcuted in the absence of locals and accused it of being stage-managed by the ruling BJD and Vedanta officials.