Social activist alleges Odisha govt trying to manipulate SC order on bauxite mining
Lok Shakti Abhiyan president Prafulla Samantara on Wednesday alleged the Odisha government was attempting to subvert the recent order of the Supreme Court relating to holding gram sabhas for a decision on proposed bauxite mining in Niyamgiri hill.india Updated: May 29, 2013 18:45 IST
Lok Shakti Abhiyan president Prafulla Samantara on Wednesday alleged the Odisha government was attempting to subvert the recent order of the Supreme Court relating to holding gram sabhas for a decision on proposed bauxite mining in Niyamgiri hill for Vedanta Group’s plant and sought Odisha governor SC Jamir’s intervention in the matter.
The social activist, an intervener in the Orisha Mining Corporation versus Union ministry of environment and forest case in the apex court, warned: “As the third party in the case we will be forced to move the Supreme Court for initiating contempt proceedings unless the state government stops manipulating and subverting the order of the court.”
On April 18, the Supreme Court in its order asked the state government for holding gram sabha saying that the decision of gram sabhas of Kalahandi and Rayagada districts was crucial on the issue of whether mining should be allowed in the Niyamgiri hill – home to nearly 10,000 endangered Dangria Kondh tribals, portrayed in western media as Na’vi from Hollywood blockbuster Avatar.
On Monday the Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste department of Odisha government issued notice to the district collectors of Kalahandi and Rayagada to hold gram sabhas in 12 villages of both the districts and complete the process within three months as stipulated by the Supreme Court.
Samantara however said the selection of just 12 villages was in contravention to the judgment of the Supreme Court, while there are more than 42 villages within 10 km range of the proposed bauxite mining project area. He said a letter from the Union ministry of environment and forest on May 2 clearly mentioned that the list of villages as prepared by the state government should be shared with the central ministry and made public through new advertisements for transparency so that corrections can be made in the list if any village was left out.
“But the list prepared by the state government has not yet been made public and shared with all stake holders as required by the ministry’s direction,” Samantara said.
Odisha government’s MoU with Vedanta group in 2004 includes supply of 78 million tonnes of bauxite from Niyamgiri by the state owned OMC to Vedanta’s alumina refinery adjacent to the hill. OMC has not been able to mine the hill due to stiff protest from the tribals who revere the hill as their god ‘Niyamraja’ and problems in getting clearance from the Union ministry for environment and forest.
Denied clearance by the ministry in 2011, the OMC had moved the Supreme Court, while Vedanta had shut down its refinery on December 6 last year due to lack of bauxite.