After Norway,India must cancel Vedanta project in Orissa:Tribals

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New Delhi, Nov 16 (UNI) Encauraged by the Norwegian government's decision to disinvest its 70 million Kroners stake in UK-based Vedanta, a group of Dongia Konds are in the capital to impress upon the President, Prime Minister and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to cancel the company's mining project in the Niyamgiri hills of Orissa.

Praful Samantray, a rights activist who had filed a petition on behalf of the tribals before a Central Empowered Committee, said in the light of Norway's decision, India also must consider the fallout of the project on the lives of Niyamgiri tribals.

Norway had on November 6 held that the allegations levelled at the company regarding environmental damage and complicity in human rights violations, including abuse and forced eviction of tribal people, are ''well founded'' and decided to withdraw its stake in the company.

Though the Supreme Court has reserved its verdict on petitions challenging Vedanta's aluminium project in Orissa, it refused to consider a petition of the tribals highlighting their plight, said Mr Samantray at a press conference here.

He said earlier the apex court has ignored the recommendation made by its own Central Empowered Committee for stalling of the project as it would go against tribals' rights and to protect the flora and fauna of Niyamgiri Hills and save the Vamsdhara and Nayavali rivers originating from there.

Jeetu, a Dongia Kondh from the region, said the tribals are very much agitated as they would lose their identity, their livelihood and homes. ''We are very self-righteous people and we dont want to beg. We consider the Niyamgiri hill as our God and it is our right and nobody can snatch it away from us.'' He said they would not mind sacrificing their lives for their right.

The tribals plan to hold a rally in the capital next week to draw attention to their demands.

UNI

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