Odisha Village Gram Sabha Opposes Vedanta

It has been the practice of the government of Odisha to handover land and forest of local people without asking their consent to various mining companies either in a back-door policy or using police force or both which has been opposed by the umbrella organisation, Ganatantrik Adhikar Suraksha Sangatha, Odisha (GASS).

On  August 11, 2017,the villagers of five villages,namely,Singaram, Biriguda, Biriguda colony, Balijodi and Odiapentah situated on foot of Kondinga Hill of Rayagada – Koraput district of southern Odisha, opposed unanimously the decision of the government to hand over the Hill to the Vedanta company through a backdoor method. The Gram Sabha resolution says, “not to give any patta land, forest land and community land to any mining company”. They have circulated their resolution in among various organisations and they have sent a copy also to GASS.

According to a press release issued by GASS, today, the government of Odisha was intending to give proxy mining lease of Kodinga Hill to Vedanta companythrough Odisha Mining Corporation which fact became known through media reports on January 10, 2017. It is since then that local people of the area have been opposing such move of the government.

The Gram Sabha resolution also mentions that the government of Odisha handed over few acres of land to Aditya Birla Hindalco 20 years back for mining and also for constructing alumina plant. “The judgment of honourable Supreme Court on Singur case (West Bengal) speaks that if the land is kept unused then it should be handed over to the original land owner. As because the Aditya Birla company has not yet started its work so those land should be given back to its original owners”, the resolution speaks. (Odia copy of the resolution attached)

Both Koraput and Rayagada districts fall under the Scheduled Areas demarcated by the Indian Constitution. The tribals and dalits living in these three blocks, namely, Kashipur, Laxmipur and Dashamantapur, depend on water streams coming from this 428.31 hectares stretched Kodinga Hill for both drinking and cultivation. Agriculture is the main economy of all people of the area. They also worship Kodinga Hill as their God.

The government of Odisha had signed MOU with Hindalco in 1993 permitting the latter to extract bauxite from this 81 million tonne–deposit- bauxite hill. Now the government has given mining lease to ‘Odisha Mining Corporation’, a government of Odisha Unit, to transport bauxite to the Lanjigadaalumina plant of Vedanta with help of sub-lessee Maitri Company. TheG anatantrik Adhikar Suraksha Sangathan, Odisha is opposing such transfer of proxy-mining lease to Vedanta Co.

The organisation (GASS) has demanded that
  1. The government should cancel all mining lease with Vedanta and OMC for mining bauxite from Kodinga Hill and the government should take permission of the local community before taking up any decision.
  2. The local community should be provided individual land patta and community rights as per Forest Rights Act, 2006. 
(The press release has been issued by Dr. Golak Biharin Nath, President, GASS)