Tribal communities in India have been oppressed for a long time for the sake of industrialisation and development. Their attempts to protect their lands have been thwarted in most brutal ways.
But things have turned out to be going in favour of the Dongria Kondh tribe in Odisha, who have been protecting their homeland, the Niyamgiri hills for a long time. After 2013, this time also, the Supreme Court has blocked Odisha government’s move to start mining in the Niyamgiri Hills.
The court has asked the state to re-submit their application to allow for the Dongria’s views to be also heard in the court.
According to SurvivalInternational, the Odisha government is trying to re-open this issue, arguing that the previous referendum sanctioned in 2013 was flawed. In 2013, the 12 villages in the area had unanimously rejected London mining heavyweight Vedanta Resources’ attempt to mine bauxite on the tribal land.
Though the Odisha government had accepted the referendum back then, but now, again after three years, they are planning to move forward with the mining. Vedanta, recently announced that it might have to close its loss-making refinery, at the foot of the Niyamgiri hills, if more bauxite cannot be supplied.
The Dongria tribe has a strong bonding with their land. They have knowledge of the local forests, plants, animals and agriculture. They have been resiliently defending their lands for decades, even after facing intimidation by paramilitary forces.
They will fight till the end to protect their lands, even if they have to go to jail, says Kumuti Majhi, the President of Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti.
The Logical Indian applauds the decision of the Supreme Court of India. We urge the Odisha state government to respect this decision and leave the Dongria tribe with their lands.