A huge public meeting was held on 29th October at Talaampadar of Thuamal Rampur Block in Kalahandi district of Odisha. This public meeting was attended by over 2000 people. The objective of the meeting was to strengthen the bonds across the communities and reiterate their resolve to unitedly continue the protests against bauxite mining of the Sijimali hills. Both women and men leaders from various panchayats of both Thuamal Rampur Block of Kalahandi District and Kashipur Block of Rayagada District were present on the dais. Veteran activists of Gandhamardhan and Niyamgiri movement, left affiliated trade unions and members of other democratic forces also participated in the meeting and extended their solidarity. The meeting passed a resolution demanding the withdrawal of the lease given to Vedanta, since the two public hearings held by OSPCB and district administrations on 16th and 18th October have unanimously registered their protest against the mining project. It also demanded the release of those incarcerated in jail and withdrawal of all police cases against the villagers. The resolution has been signed and received thumb impression by around 200 people and was passed by a complete show of hands by all present. The following is the text of the resolution translated from Odia.
Resolution Passed at Talaampadar Public Meeting
Today on 29th October 2023, at Talaampadar, a pulic meeting was held under the leadership of Shri Lai Majhi. A large number of women, men and the village leaders from Sunger and Sindurghati Panchayats of Kashipur Block, and Kerpai, Talaampadar and Nakrundi panchayats of Thuamal Rampur Block had attended the meeting. The central theme of the meeting revolved around the issue of mining in Sijimali and Kutrumali hills and the need for unity across the region. Along with this the issues concerning protection of life, livelihood, water, forest and land resources were also discussed. After a through discussion, the following resolutions were arrived at with a general consensus.
- In Scheduled areas like Kashipur and Thuamal Rampur, without the consent of Gram Sabha the government has illegally leased out Sijimali and Kutrumali hills to companies for mining. Further, the process of inviting claims both individual and community, and grant of patta to claimants, have not been carried out, which is a violation of Forest Rights Act, 2006. Hence, we demand that the government should first withdraw the mining lease. Thereafter, the government should immediately start the procedure, as per the Forest Rights Act 2006, of distributing land records to villagers.
- The public hearings held at Sunger and Kerpai on 16th October and 18th October were stopped due to public protest. Contrary to this, the District Administration declared that the public hearings were completed peacefully. In each public hearing thousands of women and men from the affected villages were present. Whoever was given a chance to speak in the public hearing, each of them highlighted how the proposed mining is going to destroy their life and livelihood along with creating irreparable damage to the water streams, forest and environment. Drawing attention to the illegality of allotment of mining lease even without seeking environment clearance, each speaker has demanded for cancellation of mining lease.
- In order to protect our life, livelihood, our ancestral property, the abode of our gods and goddesses and above all to protect our environment we have been carrying out our struggle in a peaceful and democratic way. However, the government and administration have slapped many false cases against our people, arrested and locked up our people in jails. Hence, we demand that the government and administration to immediately and unconditionally release our people who are incarcerated in jail, and withdrawal of all police cases against the villagers.
- In today’s public meeting the members had again reiterated their viewpoints and demands as presented at the public hearings. They also took a resolution of not ceding an inch of land to the proposed mining project.
- A proposal was also made in the public meeting to send copies of the resolution letter to honorable Governor, Chief Minister, the Expert Appraisal Committee of MOEF, District collectors of Rayagada and Kalahandi, Sub-collectors of Rayagada and Kalahandi, Block Development Officers of Kashipur and Thuamal Rampur.