ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Undermining Adivasi Interests

The haste with which a public hearing was pushed through for Sesa Sterlite's expansion of its Lanjigarh facility in Kalahandi, Odisha leads to the assumption that perhaps the acche din promised by the new government are actually for the corporate sector. There seems to be an overt and covert effort to ensure that big corporate houses take over the development projects at the cost of local communities and natural resources. The Dongria Kondhs who have been opposing the expansion have been paying the price in terms of daily repression and arbitrary arrests.

The promise of acche din indeed seems to be coming true for corporate houses, never mind about the others. In less than two months of the new Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government coming to power, the alacrity with which a public hearing was pushed through for Sesa Sterlite’s – formerly known as Vedanta Aluminum – expansion of its Lanjigarh facility in Kalahandi district in Odisha is exemplary.

When on 30 July 2014 the Odisha State Pollution Control Board held the public hearing for the proposed expansion from one million to six million tonnes per annum, neither the board nor the district administration felt the need to inform all the local people about it. Instead, the administration and those aiding the company merely put in notices about the hearing in some selective newspapers and published it on a website. When we visited the five villages on the Niyamgiri Mountain that had voted against mining  on 6 and 7 July 2013, we discovered that none of the village people in the area were aware of this public hearing.

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