We, members of Ganatantrik Adhikar Surakhya Sangathan (Odisha), are deeply shocked and enraged with the vindictive attitude of the government of Odisha towards the tribals of the state. The government of Odisha has started hounding tribal leaders of Mali Hill defying statutory and constitutional provisions as well as time to time verdict of the Apex court.
The arrests are happening due to the opposition to the HINDALCO by local villagers. The Koraput district police have already arrested seven villagers last night (24/09/2021). Those villagers who have been arrested are G Hemant Kumar (42), Rabi Khora (43), Mahanta Khosla (35), Samba Pangi (45), Bhikari Guntha (43), Dambaru Guntha (38) and Ratan Kadia (28). They have been arrested under U/s 147/148/427/323/332/326/307/379 294 506 149 of IPC, 17 Criminal Law Amendment Act/ 3 PDPP Act and section 25/27 of Arms Act on FIR No. 91/2021 lodged in Semiliguda Police Station. The FIR contends names of 36 and other. So, it is imminent that many more people in coming days could be arrested.
What the message the government of Odisha wants to give? The Public Hearing for the mining of 0.6MT bauxite from the Mali Hill by the Company was supposed to be held on 22 September at Kankada Amba village. But the State Pollution Control Board, Bhubaneswar and District Administration of Koraput had started their Public Hearing at 9AM, two hours before the scheduled time. Such mischievous act had made the villagers angry. If we see the act of the villagers on the day of Public Hearing as breaking the law and order then the officers of the Board should be held responsible.
Earlier, the local villagers under the banner of Mali Parbat Surakhya Samiti had intimated the district administration that several outsiders, engaged by the HINDALCO, were roaming in the proposed area and were intimidating the villagers. Both the district authorities, in charge of law and order, had not taken it seriously.
Both the SPCB and the District Administration, Koraput were forced to cancel the Public Hearing due to the resistance of the nearby villagers. This is coming under fifth scheduled area of the constitution where consent of the Gramasabha/Pallisabha is mandatory. Without people’s consent, how a mining could happen in the area?
The State Pollution Control Board in Odisha has made the public hearing a farce. We have been observing from past such hearings that even if majority of people are telling in opposition to the big project but the Board is giving its statement as ‘satisfactory’ – we heard reaction of people. Later the Board is giving the environment clearance for the project ignoring the people’s voice. The Odisha State Pollution Control Board has spoiled the spirit behind the Public Hearing – the achievement we had in late 90s. Nowadays, several big companies in Odisha though have been established but they have come after construction of a police station in nearby the company’s plant and the mining.
We are here demanding before the Government of Odisha 1) to stop arresting the villagers 2) to release those who have been arrested 3) to cancel the HINDALCO project immediately 4) follow constitutional provision in the scheduled area.
Golak Bihari Nath, President
Deba Ranjan, General Secretary
Ganatantrik Adhikar Surakhya Sangathan, Odisha