The bauxite mining operation in Mali Hill in south Odisha’s Koraput district by Hindalco Industries has been stopped due to the agitation by the local tribal people.
Taking up cudgels under the banner of Mali Parvata Surakhya Samiti (MPSS), the tribal people of the area have launched an agitation demanding cancellation of mining lease issued to the aluminium major.
The agitators pointed out that tribals of around 40 villages under the Sorishapodar, Hundi, Dalaiguda and Pakhajhola panchayats in Similiguda block would be affected by the mining operation.
“We demand immediate cancellation of the mining lease granted to the company,” said Damburudhara Khillo, president of MPSS. He alleged that the water sources, on which the local people are dependent for their survival, would dry up if the mining is taken up in the area.
Besides, the people of seven villages, surrounding the bauxite mine, have launched separate agitation demanding jobs in the project. They staged dharna in front of the Rashleela Enterprisers Private Limited, the company engaged by Hindalco to carry out the mining work. Police forces have been deployed in the area to avoid any untoward incident. “We are keeping watch on the situation and trying to convince the agitators,” said a senior district officer.
Rashleela Enterprisers, the mining contractor appointed by Hindalco, had started its operation at Mali Hill on June 15, 2008. But the company had to stop work in 2010 following opposition of the local people.
The contractors tried to resume work at the site from July 16, this year after getting fresh order from Hindalco. But their renewed efforts once again met with stiff resistance. As a result, the company has not been able to transport the raw material, which is lying on the top of the hill after being mined, says the general manager, Rashleela Enterprisers, Manoj Sethia. “We have appraised the district administration about the prevailing situation,” he said.
After mining from the hill, raw bauxite is transported to a depo near Tentuliguda and from there these are transported to the alumina factory of Hindalco in Uttar Pradesh. Between 2008 and 2011, the company had transported around 18,000 tonnes of bauxite to its alumina refinery, sources said.