Oriya tribal on way to London to save Niyamgiri hill

NEW DELHI - A young Kondh tribal from Orissa is on his way to London to appeal to shareholders of Britain-headquartered metal giant Vedanta to reconsider its plan to mine bauxite from the “sacred” Niyamgiri hill against the wish of the local tribal community.

Threatened by the proposed mining, the Kondh community living on the ecologically sensitive hill has sent their representative to appeal to company shareholders to abandon the project in Orissa’s Kalahandi district.

“We cannot live without our God Mountain and the forest. We will continue our peaceful struggle. It is a life and death battle and Kondh people are united on this,” young Sitaram said before leaving India Saturday.

ActionAid, a voluntary organisation, is helping the tribal community in their fight against Vedanta.

The company is set to build an open-pit mine for bauxite on the top of the hill and a refinery plant on the foot of the hill.

Activists protesting the move say the mining will lead to dislocation of this indigenous community and destroy the local ecosystem. The community believes that the Niyamgiri hills are the ancestral home of thousands of tribal people whose distinctive way of life and culture make them one of Indias most vulnerable indigenous groups.

The Supreme Court allowed Vedanta Resources to mine bauxite in Niyamgiri Hill in August last year.

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