Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Koraput, Jul 15:
Intensifying their protest against mining by Vedanta Aluminium Limited, the residents of 10 villages on Tuesday put up sign boards and red flags atop the mountain protesting the aluminium major’s mining plans at Danga Deulo hill in Odisha’s Koraput district.
“No company can take a handful of soil from this mountain till we are alive. If government creates rift amongst the villagers, then the consequences would be detrimental and the government would be responsible for it,” the villagers threatened.
As a mark of protest against mining, the villagers planting trees on Malimunda mountain, put up sign board and red flags asking the officials of the mining company to stay away from mining activities.
The sign board read: we have rights over water, land and forests and 10 villages are strongly opposing mining in Malimunda.
“The government should have taken the opinion of the villagers before awarding the mining lease to the company. But, no body has come to us till date. The government is trying to sell our Danga Deulo hill without consulting us. We would starve if our Danga Deulo hill would be sold. Where would our cattle graze and drink water?” the Masipur villagers questioned.
We would destroy the attempt of the company officials to start mining here with the backing of politicians and government, the villagers threatened.
Almost a week ago, the villagers had asked the forest department officials to provide saplings to plant them in the mountain. However, the officials refused to provide saplings saying the government has leased out the mountain to Vedanta Aluminium Limited (Sesa Sterlite Group).
“The forest staff asked us to produce the land patta of the mountain to get the plantlets when we insisted to provide us saplings,” a villager said.
After being denied, the villagers of Semiliguda, Muniguda, Koraput and the nearby areas collected saplings and planted them at the mountain yesterday.
A local outfit Malimunda-Kanhai Hill Surakshya Samiti (MKHSS) has been spearheading the protest.
Notably, the state government had awarded prospecting licence (PL) to Vedanta in June 2014 for laterite mining at Danga Deulo hill.