Tribals start indefinite protest against mining in Dantewada hill

Hindustan Times | June 08, 2019

The tribals, however, stated the protest under the banner of Sanyukt Panchayat Samiti and demanded to stop the mining operations.

In a rerun of Niyamgiri in Odisha, tribals on Friday started protest against mining operations on a hill in Bailadila area of Moaist affected Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh claiming that the hill was their deity.

The National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) owns the mine and has allocated it to Adani Enterprises for operation. Both NMDC and Adani Enterprises issued statements saying that they believe in “growth with goodness” and the mining operations were commencing after taking all clearances, including consent of the respective gram sabhas.

The tribals, however, stated the protest under the banner of Sanyukt Panchayat Samiti and demanded to stop the mining operations.

“The mining on hill has been given to Adani by NMDC for mining. The hill is revered as the shrine of Pitod devi, wife of nature god Nandraj and our faith has been associated with it,” said Nandaram Sori, a local Communist Party of India (CPI) leader and added that if tribals allow mining on the sacred hill, the local people will have to bear its brunt.

“We won’t survive if we will not protect that hill. We do not want to allow either NMDC or Adani to excavate that hill. Besides, mining activities on the hill will also affect water resources like rivers and rivulets and left them dry thereby affecting our lives,” he claimed.

Dantewada Superintendent of Police Abhishek Pallava said additional police forces have been deployed to prevent any untoward incident. “No permission has been taken for the protest. Although everybody has right to protest in democracy but in peaceful manner not in violent one. If the protestors will try to disturb law and order situation, strong action will be taken against them,” he said.

He said that some people came to protest because of pressure of Maoists and if anyone is found engaged in any violence they will booked and arrested.

In a similar statement Adani Enterprises and NMDC said to mining activities, NMDC Limited and Chhattisgarh Mineral Development Corporation Ltd (CMDC Ltd) formed a joint venture in the 2008. “NMDC held consultation with gramsabhas between 2010 to 2014, took environment clearance in 2015 and forest clearance in January 2017. Subsequently, in 2017, mining lease was transferred to the government owned joint venture company NMDC-CMDC Ltd (NCL),” the statements read.

“In January 2018, at least ten companies expressed interests to participate in the International competitive bid for Development and Operation of Bailadila Iron Ore. The short-listing of bidders was done on the basis of prescribed technical and financial qualification requirements as per the terms and conditions of the tender. Adani Enterprises Ltd (AEL) was selected as successful bidder through transparent reverse bidding process,” the statement said.

In 2013, tribals had protested to prevent mining in Niyamgiri hills in Odisha saying the hill was there local deity. Niyamgiri hills are home to more than 15,000 Kondh tribes (Dongria and Kutia) living in 160 villages spread across the Rayagada and Kalahandi districts of the state. The tribes consider the hills as sacred and worship the hill, calling it ‘Niyam Raja’.