There is an unusual combination of fear and fortitude on show, as the fight over Niyamgiri Hills finally draws to a close.
Even though Vedanta Resources’ proposal to mine bauxite at the sacred mountain in Orissa’s Kalahandi district is rejected, for thousands of tribals like Laksa Majhi, who for countless generations have lived in the shadow of Niyamgiri, the insecurities persist.
When asked whether the shelving of its Niyamgiri bauxite mining plans would mark the end of the road for Vedanta Aluminium in Lanjigarh, Mukesh Kumar, COO of Vedanta Aluminium, reveals the alternative. “Within 50 sq km of here, there is between 500-600 million tonnes of bauxite. The viability of the Lanjigarh plant will be affected, if we are not allowed to mine at Niyamgiri. But there are other options.”
And that is exactly what local tribal leaders like Kumuti Majhi are afraid of. “We are happy that the mining won’t be allowed, as many would suffer for one man’s profit. But the refinery should be closed down, otherwise they (Vedanta) will keep trying to takeover our land,” feels Kumuti.
This time, the tribes of Niyamgiri have triumphed. But the trepidation remains.