Khambesi gram sabha votes against mining in Niyamgiri
Bhubaneswar: Like its predecessors, the gram sabha in Khambesi village of Rayagada district on Tuesday also voted against mining at the Niyamgiri hills, dashing the hopes of Vedanta’s bauxite excavation plan.
All the 50 villagers including 37 women present in the village level meeting asserted their religious and cultural rights over the hills and stressed that no mining would be allowed atop the hills, which is being worshipped by the Dongria Kondhs for years.
With 0-11 down in the bauxite match and negligible impact of the last gram sabha on its bauxite project, the British mining giant seems to be mulling feasible options to run its 1 MTPA Lanjigarh refinery at full capacity.
“The Lanjigarh refinery is currently running at 60 per cent capacity by sourcing bauxite from outside the state. We also hope to get supplies from Balco’s Kawardah mines in Chhatishgarh soon,” Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (VAL) COO Mukesh Kumar had said after the plant resumed operations last month following a gap of seven months.
The official though stated that no decision has been taken about importing raw material to run operations, industry experts observe the company will run the plant at the current capacity if it fails to get any assurance from the State government regarding raw material supply to the plant.
According to reports, the company has decided to discuss the issue (of opposition to mining in the Niyamgiri hills) with the State government soon.
Last month, soon after the inter-ministerial committee’s report to chief minister Naveen Patnaik stressing on long-term linkage policy for supply of raw materials to local industries, Kumar expressed confidence of getting raw material for Lanjigarh plant.
"We are optimistic that VAL will get the required raw material from the State. If aluminium industries cannot survive in Odisha, which has huge bauxite reserves, they cannot be feasible anywhere else in India," Kumar had said after meeting chief secretary JK Mohapatra.