Protest outside Vedanta AGM over Niyamgiri as gram sabha nixes mining

London/Bhubaneswar: Even as activists from a campaigning organisation protested at the venue of annual general meeting of British mining giant Vedanta against its plans to drill bauxite in Niyamgiri hills, the ninth gram sabha at Lamba village in Rayagada district on Thursday rejected the proposal to allow bauxite mining for Vedanta Aluminium on Niyamgiri hill.
 
'Foil Vedanta', an independent campaigning organisation and several other organisations held a demonstration at the AGM of the British mining giant at the Marriott Hotel at Grosvenor square on Thursday.
 
A parallel demonstration was also held in Johannesburg, a spokesperson of 'Foil Vedanta' said.
 
Protesters were chanting and singing throughout the two- hour protest which could be heard inside the AGM, the spokesperson added.
 
Meanwhile, the tribal residents of the village who participated in the proceedings expressed their views against the mining plan claiming such activities would adversely affect their religious and cultural rights.
 
With this, all the nine out of the 12 gram sabhas held so far have rejected the mining proposal on Niyamgiri for supply of bauxite for the alumina refinery plant of Vedanta at Lanjigarh in adjoining Kalahadi district.
 
The residents opposed mining activities in the area as they felt it would infringe upon their life style and culture, sources said.
 
Their views were similar to those voiced in all eight village level meetings held earlier in various villages of Rayagada and Kalahandi districts.
 
Apart from Lamba, the villages where Gram Sabhas have been held so far are: Serkapalli, Kesarpadi, Todijhola (all in Rayagada district), Kanakudu, Batudi, Palbiri, Phuldumer and Ijurupa (all located in Kalahandi district).
 
All the remaining three gram sabhas are slated to be conducted in different villages located in Rayagada district, sources said.
 
Niyamgiri spreads across 240 sq km area Dongaria Kandhs and other tribal groups worship Niyam raja as their protector. Therefore, they have been opposing any move to allow mining activities in the area.
(With Agency Inputs)