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Tribals 'oppose' mining plan on Serubandha; Nalco says will

Press Trust of India  |  Koraput (Odisha) 

A section of the tribal people of Koraput district opposed the bauxite mining plan of Navaratna PSU Nalco at Serubandha hill again on Thursday, saying it will affect the economy of around 5,000 people.

The Nalco, however, said the locals were not opposed to mining operation in the area, but they have certain demands and the company is committed to safeguarding their interests.

The tribals' opposition came to the fore at the second Gram Sabha (village meeting) held at the panchayat office of Pottangi in the district to register their opinion for the proposed bauxite mining.

"The economy of over 5,000 people of four panchayats depends on Serubandha hill. They eke out a living by collecting minor forest produces. They use the streams of the hill for agricultural activities. Once mining starts, the streams will go dry and their economy will collapse," said Bhagaban Golari, who was present at the meeting.

Golari is also the president of Serubandha Surakhya Samiti, which is spearheading the anti-mining movement.

"The villagers' opinion was not to allow bauxite mining at Serubandha and I supported it. We don't want mining activities in our area. It will create more problems than benefits for the local people," said former Pottangi MLA Ramchandra Kadam, who attended the gram sabha.

Attending the meeting, BJP leader and former Koraput MP Jayaram Pangi said Nalco should publish a white paper on the development work it will undertake in the area, and people should decide about allowing mining in the next gram sabha.

Thursday's gram sabha was second of the four gram sabhas being organised by the Koraput district administration to seek the opinion of the villagers on the proposed mining at Serubandha hill under Pottangi block.

The people opposed the mining plant in the first gram sabha at Maliput on Wednesday. Two more such gram sabhas will be held at Nuagaon and Kotia panchayats on June 21 and 22 respectively.

"The villagers expressed opposition to mining at the gram sabha. Detailed proceedings of it will be sent to the government," said Dibakar Purohit, panchayat executive officer, Pottangi.

A Nalco statement said, "The villagers, while putting up their demands, have voiced favourably in support of Navaratna PSU Nalco for carrying out the mining and developmental activities in the area."

It asserted that bauxite mining by the company will not affect any jungle.

Rather, after mining, Nalco will create lush jungles out of the mined out areas through afforestation, thereby leading to positive environmental impact, the statement said adding that it had taken the same measures in Panchpatmali bauxite mines.

The company said it has also prepared a rehabilitation and resettlement policy to take care of the affected people and has also earmarked Rs 300 crore for development work.

The Nalco is planning mining operations at Serubandha hill which has an estimated reserve of 69.03 million tons of bauxite.

Serubandha hill is approximately 30 km south east of Nalco's refinery at Damanjodi and 50 km south-east of the company's operational mine at at Panchpatmali in Korapout district.

With a reserve of 310 million tons, Panchpatmali mines is considered the world's largest single site bauxite deposit.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, June 20 2019. 23:00 IST