The battle for the bauxite-rich land in Niyamgiri hills in Kalahandi between Anil Aggarwal-promoted Vedanta Aluminium and local Dangria Kandha tribe intensified on Tuesday with the abduction a tribe leader at gunpoint.
The mining project is captive to the Vedanta Resources' Vedanta Aluminium's R8,400-crore, five-lakh-tonne aluminium smelter in neighbouring Jharsuguda district.
People accompanying Lada Sikaka Majhi (35) alleged that he was taken away by some armed men, probably plain-clothes policemen.
According to reports, Majhi was on his way to Kalahandi district headquarters Bhabanipatna, along with a few other activists on Tuesday.
They were to be in Delhi to attend a meet on the Forest Rights Act on Wednesday.
Majhi's aides said more than a dozen men with AK-47 assault rifles stopped their car in Niyamgiri forest. They snatched the car keys and dragged out Majhi, his companion Sana Majhi and a woman activist.
The armed men packed them into another vehicle and drove away. "They threw me and the woman out of the vehicle after some distance and took Majhi with them," Sana said.
He alleged the armed men took Majhi to Rayagada district on the other side of Niyamgiri hills. Kalahandi district police chief Sudha Singh, however, said, "I have talked to Majhi. He is in a relative's place in a village in Rayagada district. He will reach home by tomorrow."
Prafulla Samantra, convenor of Lok Shakti Abhiyan said people who had deposed before the Centre's N.C. Saxena panel, were being targeted. He said Arsi Majhi, a leader of the Green Kalahandi movement, was murdered last month.
Virbhadra to take up Posco with Ramesh
Concerns of Posco, whose steel plant in Orissa is facing environmental hurdles, will now be raised by Union Steel minister Virbadra Singh.
Environment ministry last Friday asked Orissa to stop land acquisition of the Rs 54,000 crore plant citing violations of the Forest Rights Act.
On Wednesday, Singh said that he will take up the Posco issue with the environment ministry. “If the need be, we will take up the matter with the ministry of environment for the speedy clearance of the Posco’s Orissa project,” Singh said.
The steel ministry officials believe that the issues regarding the Posco’s plant will be resolved in a month’s time.