Bhubaneswar, July 29 IANS | 2 years ago

Vedanta's plan to mine Odisha's Niyamngiri hills received a further jolt Monday with villagers opposing it unanimously at the seventh gram sabha (meeting) in the state.

"Like the previous gram sabhas, villagers at Phuldumer in Kalahandi district said no to mining," protest leader Siddharth Nayak, who witnessed the meeting, told IANS.

Vedanta has set up a one million tonne per annum alumina refinery at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district, about 600 km from here. However, it could never operate the plant at full capacity due to shortage of bauxite, the key raw material used to produce alumina.

Vedanta had entered into an arrangement with the state government for supply of bauxite through a state agency from nearby Niyamgiri hills, but the move was challenged by anti-displacement groups.

The Supreme Court April 18 asked the state to go to gram sabhas to understand the religious and cultural aspects of tribals in the region.

The apex court's forest bench, headed by Justice Aftab Alam, said the gram sabhas would look into the religious and cultural aspects of the (Dongaria Kondh) tribals in the region in three months and take a decision.

The state government, which decided to hold meetings in 12 villages, held such meetings at seven villages Monday.

People of all the seven villages where gram sabhas were held have passed resolutions against mining and asserted their religious and cultural rights over the hills, another protester Prafulla Samantara told IANS.

(Posted on 29-07-2013)