Orissa's primitive tribes not to allow Vedanta group mining despite SC order

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Bhubaneshwar, Aug 9 : The Dongria and Jharnia Kondh tribes of Kalahandi today announced to continue their protest against the London based Vedanta Group despite Supreme Court's green signal to the Company to go ahead with its project worth 800 million dollars to mine bauxite from the Niyamgiri Hills.

For the Dongria Kondh tribe, the Niyamgiri Hills in the state of Orissa represent not just their home but their deity. They say the mountain gives them everything they need for their survival and that they could not live anywhere else.

They have repeatedly argued that they cannot understand why their homes should be taken over by a company that will destroy the mountain, especially by a foreign corporation.

"We will not allow the company to mine our land, our sacred place. Any compensation they offer is worthless to us," a tribal leader of Kalahandi said.

He also said that the tribals depend on the fertile forest and rivers of Niyamgiri for their food, water and livelihoods in an otherwise drought prone area.

Cutting trees is a religious taboo for the members of Kondh tribal community. Their lifestyle and beliefs have protected the local environment for centuries.

Bratindi Jena, an activist from Action Aid, said that they are going to continue to assert their rights within the democratic framework as Vedanta is all set to mine bauxite from Niyamgiri to meet the raw material requirement of the aluminium refinery.

He also said that they are going to explore legal options, and will continue mobilising people and civil society.

It may be noted that the anti-Vedanta protest had received a major boost few months back, when AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi visited Lanjigarh and declared that he is their soldier and fight for them in Delhi.

Rahul had supported their movement and opined that Niyamgiri was highly sensitive both in terms of ecological and primitive tribal culture.

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