Tribals raise voice against mining

Tribals from the district have rise up in protest against bauxite mining in the Serubandha hill range.

By Priyadarshini Pattnaik in Koraput
  • Published 13.09.18
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The Serubandha hill range in Koraput district at the root of villagers’ protest. Telegraph picture

Koraput: Tribals from the district have rise up in protest against bauxite mining in the Serubandha hill range.

Alleging that thousands of villagers of four panchayats in Pottangi block and two panchayats of Semiliguda block would be affected by mining at Serubandha, the villagers vowed not to give up an inch of land for the purpose.

"People of about 40 villages will lose their homes and means of livelihood. The area has innumerable sources of water. Mining activities will not only leave them dry, but also hit our lives," said Sada Khillo, a Kotia resident.

Sources said the state government had leased out the land to Nalco to mine bauxite . Subsequently, district revenue officials were asked to conduct palli sabhas (village meetings) to gauge the local residents' reaction to the proposal.

Stiff resistance from local residents forced the officials to end a meeting at Malkangribandh in Pottangi block a few days ago. On Tuesday, villagers expressed their resentment against mining at the palli sabha at Thuria in the same block.

"Though the administration had issued notices for conduct of palli sabhas in at least six villages of the block, not a single meeting has been held because of resistance from villagers," a source said.

"Every time the officials have visited the villages for palli sabhas, they have faced resistance from the villagers, who are not at all interested in allowing mining in their area," the source added.

Activists said the government had leased out Panchpatmali hills, adjacent to Serubandha, on an 80-year lease since the 1980s. "There's absolutely no justification in leasing out Serubandha. If that happens, the tribals will suffer," an activist said.

A senior district official said the villagers' opinion at the palli sabhas were being recorded and intimated to senior officials for necessary action.

Two held

Police have arrested two persons for allegedly stealing goats from Kokpada village in Nandipada police limits in Keonjhar district.

The accused - Basant Bhuyan and Ashis Mukhi confessed to their crime during interrogation, the police said. They had allegedly stolen over a dozen goats in the past week and sold them off to butchers, the police said.