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Dongria tribe of Niyamgiri demands complete shutdown of Vedanta unit in Lanjigarh

 

Friday December 07, 2012

Vedanta Aluminium, Lanjigarh, Niyamgiri, Dongria Kandh Tribe  
 

"Thousands of Dongria Kondh tribals and agrarian community members took out a rally at Lanjigarh on December 6, 2012, Thursday, demanding complete closure of Vedanta Aluminium unit on the foot of Niyamgiri hill range. Tribals from both Kalahandi and Rayagada districts, who depend on Niyamgiri for their livelihood, participated in the rally, held under the banner of the Niyamgiri Surakshya Samity (NSS). Leaders of various democratic movements including Lingaraz Azad of National Forest Worker’s Federation and Prafulla Samantara, Convenor of National Alliance for People’s Movements, also joined the rally to extend their solidarity."

 
HNF Correspondent  
 

‘We want complete shutdown of Vedanta unit in Lanjigarh, not just temporary shutdown’. This slogan echoed in Kalahandi’s Lanjigarh, on the foot of Niyamgiri hill, where London based Vedanta Resources Plc has started its alumina plant and has eyed upon the Niyamgiri hills for bauxite mining. To make their demand louder for the rest of the world, thousands of Dongria Kondh tribals and members of agrarian communities took out a rally at Lanjigarh on December 6, 2012, Thursday. Tribals from both Kalahandi and Rayagada districts, who depend on Niyamgiri for their livelihood, participated in the rally, held under the banner of the Niyamgiri Surakshya Samity (NSS). Leaders of various democratic movements including Lingaraz Azad of National Forest Worker’s Federation and Prafulla Samantara, Convenor of National Alliance for People’s Movements, also joined the rally to extend their solidarity.

 

‘We want the Vedanta plant to shutdown completely because it is operating illegally in this area without environmental clearance. The plant itself is a violation of laws meant to protect the rights of the tribal people,’ said Lingaraj Azad.

One of the tribal leaders involved in the movement for protection of Niyamgiri, Lado Sikaka, said, ‘It’s for the company that operates illegally in our place that the government and its forces have been torturing us since years. They are harassing us by terming us as Maoists. They have arrested me as a Maoist leader. Anybody who is opposing the ill-designed operations of the company is being termed as a Maoist and put into harassment. Whatever the government does, we will continue our fight to save Niyamgiri, eve if the Supreme Court gives an order in favour of the company.’

Joining the rally to extend his solidarity, NAPM convenor Prafulla Samantara said, ‘the plant without a mining licence and environmental clearance is completely illegal. So, the company must close its operations in Lanjigarh because it is threatening the livelihood of the Dongria Kandh tribals and, also, polluting the whole area and endangering the forests and rivers in and around Niyamgiri.’

On the other hand, closure of Lanjigarh unit of Vedanta is believed to have become a nightmare to over 2000 persons who got a direct or indirect employment in the plant. ‘But, because of this employment, should the country keep on doing wrongs and violating the laws of the land?’ asked Prafulla Samantara and many of the tribal leaders including Kumti Majhi, the man who leads the movement for the protection of Niyamgiri.

About employment being placed as a reason to continue some of the illegal operations like mining in Keonjhar and Sundergarh, veteran legal professional and President of Odisha High Court Bar Association Jayant Das once remarked, 'should the country legalise loot and burglary because a good number of people are engaged in it?"

 
 

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