Remote Oriya tribe battles British mining giant Vedanta over eviction move

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London, July 19 : Orissa's Dongria Kondh tribe, said to be one of the world's most remote hill tribes, is waging a huge struggle against being evicted by Vedanta Resources, one of the world's largest mining companies.

According to a report in The Telegraph, the 8,000-strong tribe believes in witch doctors and animal sacrifices, and worships the mountains and forests they inhabit.

It is completely opposed to a move by Vedanta to open a massive and opencast mine in their territory to produce bauxite, the chief source of aluminum.

The tribe claims this will not only irreversibly destroy their revered mountain, but also a huge swathe of surrounding jungle, one of the last remaining forests in the entire drought-prone region, which is one of India's poorest.

The mountain is also the source of the Bansadhara River and a proposed elephant reserve, and is vital to ensure drinking water and irrigation for surrounding areas.

Vedanta counters that argument by saying that the area involved is a tiny fraction of the Kondh's traditional lands, and will be returned to its natural condition once the mining is over.

It has also pledged to bring health care, sanitation and education to an area where many die of preventable diseases, and where tribe members have in the past sold their babies to buy food.

The project was originally planned by the Orissa state government, which granted the mining permit to Vedanta.

The battle between the two is now before the Supreme Court, which will decide next week whether Sterlite, a Vedanta subsidiary, can proceed with the project.

ANI

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