Tribes | VOL. 13, ISSUE 81, November-December 2013

Niyam dongar

Jarapa Village’s unanimous ‘no’ completed the scorecard. In India’s first environment referendum, not one of the 12 villages, selected by the Odisha government to decide whether the Odisha mining corporation (OMC) and Vedanta Aluminium Ltd. (VAL) should be allowed in the Niyamgiri hills, cast a pro-mining vote. This meant that Vedanta did not get Stage 2 clearance—mining rights, for its project. The Niyamgiri hill range in Odisha is considered sacred by the Kondh tribe and other forest dwellers. The area of over 250 sq km has a bauxite reserve estimated at 70 mt, which the OMC- VAL endeavoured to tap in order to supply Vedanta’s alumina refinery in Lanjigarh. Despite the recommendations of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court to revoke the Lanjigarh plant’s environmental clearance, the plant was built and marketing begun by the time the Supreme Court heard the matter in 2007. The people of Niyamgiri vehemently opposed the proposal. A reprieve came in 2010 when Jairam Ramesh, then environment minister, brought an end to Vedanta’s plans. The protests, which began in 2005, have claimed the lives of several tribal people in accidents, police firing and forced displacements. The photo of the Niyamgiri tribals, part of The Other Hundred project, is a representation of this protest.  Such and many other stories spun together make the very novel ‘The Other Hundred’...

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