SC Rejects Odisha Govt Plea for Mining in Niyamgiri: Watch 6 videos on Save Niyamgiri Struggle

Published on: May 8, 2016
In April 2013, the Supreme Court of India (SC), in a historic judgement order banned mining by Vedanta Aluminium in the hills till the gram sabhas cleared it. In a furtive attempt, three years later, the Odisha government sought to get this historic verdict overturned. In the latest plea from the state government-owned Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) was to mine in the region independently.

The SC turned down this attempt. In a setback for Odisha government that virtually sought reconsideration of the Supreme Court ruling three years ago against mining in the state’s tribal-inhabited Niyamgiri hills, the apex court said on Friday that local gram sabhas can’t be reconvened to take a re-look at whether mining in the locality “would tantamount to infringement of the religious, community and individual rights of local forest-dwellers.”

Yesterday, on May 7, a SC bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that it is not inclined to entertain the application. All aggrieved parties shall challenge the decision of gram sabhas and the subsequent refusal of environmental clearance by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) before an appropriate forum, it said. Senior counsel CA Sundaram, appearing for the state government, argued that the gram sabhas had failed to take into account the court’s directive to consider the cultural and religious rights of the tribals and forest dwellers living in Rayagada and Kalahandi districts, but have gone beyond their mandate by deciding against mining in the hills. However, the court said that “that is in your perception. The conclusion is that people don’t want mining and then the II stage (environmental) clearance can’t be given.”

On April 11 this year, Sabrangindia had reported how human rights defender, Prafulla Samantara, President, of the  Lok Shakti Abhiyan and Convenor of NAPM was allegedly set upon by goons hired by the Vedanta company on April 6, 2016 and was rescued by the timely intervention of the villagers. The struggle of the Adivasis in the Koraput district of Odisha where Gram Sabhas of five villages have rejected the proposal of mining of the Niyamgiri hills by Vedanta and where allegations of police-govrnment-criminal nexus is threatening the fundamental rights of Adivasis. This attack on Prafulla Samantara is being seen by human rights activists as a bid to break the back of tribal unity that has stood firm against efforts by the corporate giant to get Gram Sabhas to change their stand on bauxite mining in the region

April 2016
The Supreme Court directed the Odisha government to file a fresh petition on Niyamgiri miningafter it had tried the irregular route of filing an interlocutory application to re-open the Supreme Court’s decision on this case without making Gram Sabhas a party. The Odisha government’s move for mining in the Niyamgiri hills received a jolt today with the Supreme Court of India directing it to file a fresh petition making all the affected and interested sides as parties in the application.

February 2016
In February 2016, in a questionable move, Vedanta moved the Supreme Court to, essentially, re-visit the judgement of April 2013. This application had not even made the Gram Sabhas parties to the application. This move was made through an interlocutory application in the Supreme Court. The historic judgement of the Supreme Court of India, giving primacy to the rights of tribals, the indigenous peoples, can be read here. 

The Adivasi people of Niyamgiri observe an unique protest-prayer-celebration atop the sacred hill to oppose the mining and refinery project.

These Videos Tell the Unique Story of the Adivasi Struggle to Preserve the Natural Environment

Victory March of Adivasi Dalit Bahujan of Niyamgiri after the Supreme Court accepted the Gram Sabha’s unanimous decision to cancel mining lease to Orissa Mining Corporation & Vedanta.

Rally demanding the closure of illegal Aluminium refinery in Lanjigarh, Year 2010

the Dongria Kondh movement to Save Niyamgiri, Music: Mili Bhagat

An animation depicting the Adivasi (Original inhabitants of the land) life in Orissa and their anti-mining struggles. The artist pays tribute to the men, women and children who have been shot dead by the police since 2001 for resisting mining and industrial activities on their land in Kalinga Nagar and Kashipur. The illustrations are in Idital (Saora Adivasi art) and music is from the Koya and Bonda Adivasi.

Against Police Atrocities in Niyamgiri, Year 2013

Video Source: Video Republic / Surya Shankar