Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dongria Kondh demand Execution of Supreme Court’s Order on Niyamgiri

Reporter: Kailash Tudu

Lanjigarh: The Dongria Kondhs are one of the primitive tribes living in Niyamgiri in Rayagada and Kalahandi Districts of Orissa, India. Though they reside above huge volume of bauxite, primary source of aluminum, development is yet to reach them after six decades of Indian independence. Literacy level is very low. Poverty and unemployment is everywhere. Through primary occupation is agriculture; a small land base and low agricultural productivity have led to their low income and poverty. Malnutrition and disease are very common among this Dongria Kondh community. Few Dongria Kondh villages are lucky have basic services such health facilities and education.

However, after the Supreme Court’s order on August 2008, about mining from Niyamgiri, a new hope has been originated among the community. Encouraged by the Supreme Court’s direction regarding mining from Niyamgiri by the Vedanta Aluminium, the Dongria Kondh community are hopeful that a new era of development is awaiting for them.

In the Landmark judgment, the Supreme Court directed the Vedanta Aluminium to spend Rs. 5 Crore or 10% of the profit, whichever is higher for development of people in the periphery area of the Alumina Refinery set up by the company. The money shall be spent through a Special Purpose Vehicle for Schedule Area Development – with Vedanta, Government of Orissa and Orissa Mining Company as its partner. The books of the account shall be audited by the Auditor General of Orissa and reviewed by the Supreme Court’s Central Empowerment Committee.

However, even after eight months of this land mark judgment, no initiative has been taken either by the company or the government. The Dongria Kondh community is waiting eagerly when the SPV will start function and their fortune will change. “We have no opposition to mining, as long as our development is ensured. We demand the government and the company should make the SPV operational,” said Senapati Sikoka. The voice is echoed by several other dongria kondh community members. All of them demand mining from Niyamgiri and investment for their development.

“The Dongria Kondhs stay in the immediate periphery of the plant. So with their fortune is going to change once the mining starts,” feels Dhan Majhi. The Dongria Kondh community is very encouraged to see various development interventions by the Company for Tribal development. Now they are getting regular health services at their door step though mobile health unit. Child Care Centers are also established for proper nutrition and pre-schooling of children. Roads and communication facilities in Lanjigarh has also improved. Vedanta has not only taken care of their basic need, but also started intervention for livelihood development of people in Niyamgiri. Recently, it has trained 120 Dongria Kondh women on leaf-plate making. The product has huge demand in local market and the company has also assured them to provide market linkage, once mass production starts. “We may need not to go to wage work once this leaf-plate business starts”, says Anda Majhi, a Dongria Kondh woman from Khemdipadar. They can earn more than Rs. 100/- per day sitting at home by making machine stitched leaf-plates.

As stated by the Chairman of Vedanta Mr. Anil Agrawal, Niyamgiri Bauxite Mine will be operational very soon. However, the tribals are not patient enough to wait for the ‘very soon’. They want immediate opening of Niyamgiri Bauxite mine and early operationalisation of Special Purpose vehicle, as per directive of the Supreme Court.

Reporter can be reached by email: ktudu1@gmail.com

4 comments:

banbasi said...

It is strange that the blog carries a photograph from the Environmental Protection Group Orissa (EPG) blog depicting the Dongria Kondh protesting against Vedanta. If one needs proof then the whole image and not the cropped version of it can be seen in the EPG blog. I have been reading some of the posts on this blog regarding Lanjigarh, Vedanta & dongria Kondhs. There is a lot of misinformation being passed off as genuine voices of the people. For instance where exactly was this report sourced from? I hope it is not Vedanta's imaginative and over-active Public Relation/Press Release dept's handiwork!

To know the genuine voice I suggest one follows these following links...

http://www.thehindu.com/2009/04/13/stories/2009041355490900.htm

www.youtube.com/niyamgiri

Hope this sheds some light and if not then I will be happy to take more pain.

Digambara said...

You can contact the author Mr. Kailkas Tudu who has contributed the image. There are many reports on Vedanta. This image is contrubuted by him and we have not adopted from any side. I also did not find the image in your link.

Digambara said...

In case it is adopted from your blog without aknowleging it, we will remove the image. In general we do adopt image but by aknowledging it. As you know Niyamgiri and Vedanta issue has been controversial, but you can find in our other Kalahandia blog both side views which are published as news aricles. This article by Mr. Kailash Tudu (who is a reporter in Kalahandi) is also published by onlinebreakingnews.

banbasi said...

Dept of mines recce team gets memo from tribals

StatesmanNews Service
KORAPUT, April 29: The Orissa Adivasi Forum, an outfit formed by people living in the periphery of the Nalco mines at Damanjodi here, presented a memorandum to a central team from the department of mines and the CMD Nalco who were here to visit the site of the ghastly Maoist attack recently.
Nalco authorities, as well as the ministry, were upset over the Maoist attack of 12th April. Ten CISF jawans were killed in the attack. It was the first ever strike by radicals on the PSU here.
There have been reports of grave lapses on the part of intelligence and security. It was also alleged that very little resistance was put up at the mines office area and many security personnel had surrendered meekly to the radicals. On the other hand, villagers living in the vicinity had panicked.
Many villagers have subsequently reported police excesses since the Maoist attack.
Today, people from Goudguda, Bhejaput, Dengajaniguda, Putra Ghati, Ambaguda and other areas staged a demonstration and even burnt the Nalco CMD Mr CR Pradhan in effigy. They were protesting against the lack of periphery area development activity and wanted funds to be placed at the disposal of affected villages or gram panchayats. The villagers also complained that local youth were not being prioritised for work allotted by Nalco.
Villagers have sought compensation for the family of Katru Huika who was shot dead by jawans claiming to have mistaken Huika for a Naxal.
Mr Damodar Jani, president of the Koraput unit of the Orissa Adivasi Forum, warned of intensifying the agitation if the demands of the villagers were not met within a reasonable timeframe.
The central team which was here to make an on-the-spot assessment of the post-Maoist attack scenario included the secretary and director of the department of mines - Mr Shantishila Nayar and Mr G Srinivas respectively.