Tribals again oppose Nalco’s bauxite mining plan on Serubandha

Koraput: The tribal people of Koraput district unanimously opposed the bauxite mining plan of Navaratna PSU Nalco at Serubandha hill again on Thursday, saying it will affect the economy of around 5,000 people.

The tribals’ opposition came to the fore at the second Gram Sabha (village meeting) held at the panchayat office of Pottangi in the district to register their opinion for the proposed bauxite mining.

“The economy of over 5,000 people of four panchayats depends on Serubandha hill. They eke out a living by collecting minor forest produces. They use the streams of the hill for agricultural activities. Once mining starts, the streams will go dry and their economy will collapse,” said Bhagaban Golari, who was present at the meeting.

Golari is also the president of Serubandha Surakhya Samiti, which is spearheading the anti-mining movement.

“The villagers’ opinion was not to allow bauxite mining at Serubandha and I supported it. We don’t want mining activities in our area. It will create more problems than benefits for the local people,” said former Pottangi MLA Ramchandra Kadam, who attended the gram sabha.

Attending the meeting, BJP leader and former Koraput MP Jayaram Pangi said Nalco should publish a white paper on the development work it will undertake in the area, and people should decide about allowing mining in the next gram sabha.

Thursday’s gram sabha was second of the four gram sabhas being organised by the Koraput district administration to seek the opinion of the villagers on the proposed mining at Serubandha hill under Pottangi block.

The people opposed the mining plant in the first gram sabha at Maliput on Wednesday. Two more such gram sabhas will be held at Nuagaon and Kotia panchayats on June 21 and 22 respectively.

“The villagers expressed opposition to mining at the gram sabha. Detailed proceedings of it will be sent to the government,” said Dibakar Purohit, panchayat executive officer, Pottangi.

The Nalco is planning mining operations at Serubandha hill which has an estimated reserve of 69.03 million tons of bauxite.

Serubandha hill is approximately 30 km south east of Nalco’s refinery at Damanjodi and 50 km south-east of the company’s operational mine at at Panchpatmali in Korapout district.

With a reserve of 310 million tons, Panchpatmali mines is considered the world’s largest single site bauxite deposit.