Pradeep Pattanayak

With the local administration awarding lease for mineral ore extraction from Munge hill in Bolangir’s Bangomunda, local residents are up in arms over the decision. They have joined hands and upped the ante against the move to protect the hill with which they have decades-long religious bond.

For the local people, the majestic Munge hill located in Alanda Panchayat under Bangomunda block, which houses a wide range of flora and fauna, is important for more than one reason. While it carries importance from historical point of view, it is also known for its religious values. 

The local residents say they worship their presiding deity Dangarbudha in the hill. Every year, they celebrate fairs at the foot of the hill where thousands of people from nearby villages gather. Similarly, the hill played a significance role during India’s struggle for independence. In fact, freedom fighter Mohan Majhi was taking shelter in the caves of this hill after fighting with the British.  

Since an alleged conspiracy has already been hatched to destroy this hill, the local residents are opposing the move by tooth and nail. 

“Stone mafia gangs have already dug 30 holes to create blasting. But we will oppose the move vehemently,” said Madhu Rana, a local resident. 

Echoing the same, another resident Bhabani Shankar Majhi said the hill helps bring rains to the village, making agriculture possible. “If the hill and its greenery are destroyed, our agriculture would also go with it,” observed Majhi. 

Meanwhile, the lease holders have already started initial process like carrying out blasting.  Engaging machineries and equipments, the lease holders have started digging holes for blasting purposes. 
“Since the government has awarded lease to Manoj Kumar Goel to extract minerals, we are working here. We don’t know anything more,” said an employee of the lease holder. 

Opposing the move, Alanda Sarpanch Yuvraj Bag said, “We request the administration to cancel the lease and not to give the lease to anyone in future. If our demand is not considered, there will be huge agitation in coming days.”

In this regard, when contacted, Bolangir Collector Chanchal Rana said, “We will look into it. If anything is found to have been violated, action would be taken.”

The reactions of the lease holder and local tehsildar are yet to be obtained