Bhubaneswar, May 14: The Dongria and Jharnia tribes of Rayagada and Kalahandi districts have appealed to the Supreme Court to consider their views before giving its final verdict on bauxite mining in andaround the Niyamgiri hills spread over to the districts.
Mr Jitu Jakesika and Mr Dodi Pusika of Muniguda in Rayagada district told mediapersons here that the Supreme Court was likely to give its final verdict on the issue on May 16.
The two tribal leaders said they sent a letter to the Supreme Court Chief Justice yesterday in this regard.
Claiming that they represent the Dongria and Jharnia tribes of the Kalahandi and Rayagada district, they demanded a total ban on mining operations in the Niyamgiri hills to protect the ecology and livelihood of the tribals there.
They said around 15,000 Dongria and Jharania tribals who reside in the area would die if ousted from the hills.
Mr Jakesika, the only person among the Dongria tribe to have attendede college, said they worship the Niyamgiri hills as their God and would not allow any company to mine it.
The hill, he said, is full of medicinal and fruit-bearing plants and the tribals get all their basic requirements from it.
The tribals have taken a pledge to protect the Niyamgiri hills at any cost and would not allow any company to operate there, he added.
He dismissed the idea that industry in the area would lead to the development of the tribals. The Vedant Alumina Company (VAL) in Lanjigarha had promised many things to the local tribals before setting up of the Alumina refinery, the tribal leaders said.
''Now the plant has been set up but the tribals are left to fend for themselves,'' Mr Jakesika rued, adding that if the government sincerely wanted to help the local tribals it should take up developmental projects to promote the medicinal plants and protect the environment.
The Dongria-Jaria tribals met AICC General Secretary Rahul Gandhi during his one-day visit to the state here yesterday and submitted a memorandum in this regard.
Earlier also, Mr Gandhi had met representatives of the tribals at Ijurupa and listened to their complaints. Mr Jakesika claimed that Mr Gandhi had told them to continue their fight against the mining operation in the area.