The demand was made at a public meeting organised in Munikhol of Muniguda block in Rayagada district on Thursday to mark the success of the NSS in thwarting the attempts to mine bauxite in the Niyamgiri Hills.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests recently refused to give its nod for mining bauxite from the hills. The decision was taken after the VAL proposal was rejected in 12 gram sabhas organised in Rayagada and Kalahandi districts last year.
Tribal people in their traditional attire and holding weapons gathered in strength for the victory celebration, which they termed as ‘Vijay Divas’.
Tribal people of Dongria Kondh and Jharania Kondh communities hailing from 100 villages and hamlets as well as Dalits living in the Niyamgiri Hills area participated. They started heading towards Munikhol on the outskirts of Muniguda since early in the morning. They took out a rally raising slogans against any attempt to destroy environment in the area. The rally reached Muniguda and returned to Munikhol, where a public meeting was held.
The jubilant tribal people were led by NSS president Lada Sikaka and its working committee members — Dadhi Puchika and Bari Pidikaka. Sarpanches of Kurli, Munikhol, and Parsali panchayats of Rayagada district and Trilochanpur panchayat of Kalahandi district also took part in the rally and public meeting.
Activists of the Lok Sangram Manch (LSM), a tribal organisation, and national committee member of the All India Khet Mazdoor Sabha (AIKMS) B.C. Sadangi attended the rally and public meeting to express their solidarity with the NSS.
At the public meeting, the leaders were of the opinion that the threat to the Niyamgiri Hills and the Mali Hills in Koraput district remained till the Lanjigarh refinery existed.
They feared that the State government and the VAL would make every attempt to provide bauxite to the refinery.
“To safeguard environment of the Niyamgiri Hills and the Mali Hills, we should continue our fight till the refinery is closed down completely,” Mr. Sikaka said.
Basic amenities sought
Mr. Sadangi said, “The State government is promoting bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri Hills area under the pretext that it would lead to development of the area. As the mining proposal has been turned down, it is high time the government showed its sincerity and took up development projects in the area.”
The villages and hamlets in the Niyamgiri Hills area do not have basic amenities such as proper medical facility, schools,