Mining Niyamgiri hills will be illegal: NC Saxena report

Says the mining area belongs to the tribals as per the Forest Rights Act

prasanna

Prasanna Mohanty | August 16, 2010


Niyamgiri Hill
Niyamgiri Hill

The NC Saxena Committee has ruled out the possibility of mining the Niyamgiri hills saying that since the proposed area belongs to the tribals as per the Forest Rights Act it would be illegal to do so.

The report, which was made public today, goes on to say that “it is firmly established that the area proposed for mining lease and the surrounding thick forests are cultural, religious and economic habitat of the Dongaria Kondhs”.
“If mining is permitted on this site it will not only be illegal but it will also destroy one of the most sacred sites of the Kondh primitive tribal groups”, says the report. It goes on to add that mining, if allowed, “will have repercussions on the community’s very survival, the overall viability of this groups and its biological and social reproduction”.

The committee clearly expresses its lack of confidence in the Orissa government by saying that “from the evidence collected by the committee we conclude that the Orissa government is not likely to implement the Forest Rights Act in a fair and impartial manner” and appeals to the MoEF to take necessary steps to protect the tribals.

As for the Vedanta Alumina, the company which wants to mine the Niyamgiri for its rich bauxite deposit, the committee says it has “consistently violated the Forest (Conservation) Act, Forest Rights Act, Environment Protection Act and the Orissa Forest Act in active collusion with the state officials”.

See the attachment for the NC Saxena Committee report.

The committee’s concluding remark is telling. The report says the committee is “of the firm view that allowing mining in the proposed mining lease area by depriving two primitive tribal groups (PTG) of their rights over the proposed mining site in order to benefit a private company would shake the faith of tribal people in the laws of the land which may have serious consequences for the security and wellbeing of the entire country”.

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