Orissa govt decries move

Orissa govt decries move

“This is certainly an unfortunate decision if they have rejected the mining project on the ground of violation of forest and environment laws. We have done nothing wrong. All the steps taken by us were as per the directive of the Supreme Court,” said Minister for industries Raghunath Mohanty.

However, the Congress, the main opposition party in the state, which had thrown its lot behind the Dongaria tribals in their struggle against the Vedanta mining project, has  welcomed the ministry’s decision. “We welcome the decision on behalf of the people of Kalahandi. This is a victory of the poor tribals,” said Congress Lok Sabha member from Kalahandi  Bhakta Charan Das.

The decision has also been warmly welcomed by the activist fraternity in the state. “This is the victory of the tribals as well as the poor people in the country. Orissa is saved from mining loot,” said Prafulla Samantary, a prominent activist.

The Centre’s decision has turned out to be a major victory for the Dongaria Kandh tribals, who have been battling hard against the proposed controversial mining project since long. Vedanta wanted bauxite for its aluminium refinery at nearby Lanjigarh in the same Kalahandi district.The Dongarias, one of the most primitive and endangered tribes in the country, have been residing in the Niyamgiri hills since generations.

The tribals were up in arms against the proposed mining project as they felt that the mining activities in the hills would not only take away their livelihood but would also shatter them emotionally. The Dongarias consider the Niyamgiri hills as their “living god.” As soon as the news of the Vedanta development reached Orissa, some of the Dongarias were heard saying in local TV channels that their struggle against the mining project would continue. “We will resist any kind of mining activities in Niyamgiri tooth and nail,” Kusuti Majhi, president of Niyamgiri Surakhya Samiti, said.

 Interestingly, Union Forest and Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh announced his ministry’s decision in New Delhi just a day after Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik took up the matter with him (Ramesh) as well as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Patnaik, who returned from New Delhi on Tuesday afternoon, said his government would properly examine the order. “We will certainly examine what the order is and appropriate action will be taken subsequently,”  he added.                              
DH News Service

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