Debabrata Mohanty : Kunakadu, Thu Jul 25 2013,IE
Rainclouds hung over Niyamgiri hills, but the cloud of uncertainty over Vedanta Alumina’s 1 million tonne per annum alumina refinery plant at Lanjigarh, Kalahandi, deepened further after the fourth pallisabha on Wednesday rejected the company’s plan to mine the bauxite-rich hills.
At Kunakadu, under Trilochanpur gram panchayat, where the fourth pallisabha was held, 21 of the 22 voters present said no to any mining by Vedanta. After a meeting that lasted for 100 minutes, the Dongaria Kondh tribals told Kalahandi Additional District Judge P K Jena, the Supreme Court-appointed observer, that under no circumstances would they allow mining in Niyamgiri as their “God” resided there. “Like the Jagannath temple in Puri is revered by Hindus, we worship the Niyamraja who resides in the hills. We have been propitiating Niyamraja by sacrificing pig, chicken, goat over the years. We would continue to do so. Mining is out of question,” said tribal youth Tanguru Majhi.
Kunakadu villagers did not stake any community rights claim under the Forest Rights Act. They rejected the two community right claims under FRA, allegedly sent by them to the Kalahandi district administration. “We don’t know who had sent those claims. We reject any claim as the government is trying to limit us to a few patches of forests in Niyamgiri,” said Siteri Majhi.
Kumiti Majhi, convenor of Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, said the remaining eight villages are going to see a repeat of what four pallisabhas have said. “We are united in our effort to evict the company from Kalahandi,” he said.
On April 18, the Supreme Court had ordered that tribals living in Niyamgiri would decide through pallisabhs whether the proposed mining project would cause harm to their religious right of worshipping Niyamraja.
A major blow for Vedanta came Tuesday when Tadijhola, the only non-tribal village among the 12 pallisabhas, rejected the mining plan.