Kalahandi Village Opposes Mining atop Niyamgiri Hills

Bhawanipatna: After two villages in Raygada district rejected a proposal of allowing bauxite mining atop Niyamgiri Hills, another village in Kalahandi district did the same at the Gram Sabha held today. Though the residents of Tadijhola village did not belong to Dangaria, Jharania or Kutia Kandha tribes, they too claimed to be worshipping Niyam Raja as their presiding deity whose seat was located atop Niyamgiri Hills. Of the 22 members of the Gram Sabha, 19 including 11 women attended the proceeding and gave their opinion on whether to allow mining atop Niyamgiri Hills.

“The people have clearly said they are not in favour of mining in Niyamgiri Hills,” said Pramod Kumar Jena, the additional district judge of Kalahandi district. Jena was assigned the job of supervision of Gram Sabhas to be conducted in Kalahandi district. Besides Jena, the BDO and Tehsildar of Lanjigarh block attended the Gram Sabha to record statements of the people. The residents of the Tadijhola, one of the 12 hill slope villages, were mostly of ‘Goud’ community which come under OBC category.

This was third of the 12 Gram Sabhas to be held in hill slope villages of Niyamriri Hills. Earlier, residents of Serkapadi and Kesarpadi villages in Rayagada district in Gram Sabhas held on July 18 and July 22 respectively had rejected the proposal of allowing mining atop Niyamgiri Hills. Meanwhile, the state government has moved the Supreme Court seeking more time for completion of Gram sabha exercise as the apex court on its April 18 judgement had asked to end the exercise within three months. “We have moved the Supreme Court seeking more time for completion of the Gram Sabhas,” said a senior official of forest and environment department.

Though the state government has been conducting Gram Sabhas in only 12 villages, local residents, four tribal MLAs and even the Ministry of Tribal Affairs have demanded conducting similar exercise in other villages also.

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