Tribes in Odisha's Kodingamali Hills Unite, Demand Bauxite Mining to be Stopped

Reported by

Krithika ALand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

November 5, 2020

Location of Conflict

Kodingamali

,

Koraput

This is a Left Wing Extremism Affected District

This is A Schedule Five District

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Bauxite Mining

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

435

ha

State

Odisha

Sector

Mining

The Kodingamali Bauxite Mining Project was started in February 2018 by the Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) in Koraput district. The Kodingamali mines are part of the Kodingamali Reserve Forests, comprising 12 protected forests and six reserved forest areas in the buffer zone of the mining operations. The project received the environmental clearance on May 28, 2008, for an area of 447.27 hectares. The Stage II forest clearance was obtained on September 25, 2017, for 434.935 hectares. OMC signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2004 with Vedanta to supply 70 per cent of the bauxite from the mines to the latter for its controversial aluminium refinery in Kalahandi district. A mining contractor, Mythri Infra, was hired by the OMC for excavation and mining. OMC had initially planned to supply bauxite to Vedanta from the Niyamgiri mines, but when that project was rejected, OMC considered bauxite supply from Kodingamali. Tribal communities in Kodingamali village have protested against the mining operations, highlighting issues of irregularities in the forest clearance, inadequate livelihood opportunities and water and air pollution in the area from mining operations. The area falls under Schedule V of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, or PESA. The tribespeople allege that the provisions of PESA were not followed nor was their consent taken while granting forest clearance to the project. The mining is not happening as per laws. The authorities are running the mine in an illegal manner. They should have conducted public hearings before opening the mine, but these processes were not conducted. They have established their monopoly here. We have waited for two years now, but no development has happened that was promised to us. We just want this mine to be shut and trees to be planted in its place, Akhil Chandra Jhatia, a protestor, told a local news channel. In April 2018, five forest dwellers were arrested for allegedly torching a tipper of the OMC, following which mining was halted for some time. In August, Pradeep Kumar Bagh, president of the Kodingamali Suraksha Manch, filed a public interest litigation (PIL) at the Orissa High Court to stop the excavation and transportation of minerals. However, this was withdrawn by the petitioner with a request to file again as the court said that OMC and Vedanta should have been made parties in the PIL. In November, some villagers filed a complaint with the Odisha State Pollution Control Board on effluents being discharged into the agricultural fields from the mines. This was followed by a complaint to the District Collector. In September 2019, residents of 24 villages, including Kodingamali, protested against Vedanta in Koraput, demanding fresh hearings with the village assembly for the mining project. The agitation ended after the district administration assured the protesters that the procedure will be started afresh. In December, the Orissa High Court ordered the secretary of the State Mines Department to look into the matter and to stop illegal mining at the Kodingamali mines in Laxmipur area of Koraput.

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common

Private and Common

Type of Common Land

Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

42.48

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Land Area Affected
(in Hectares):

435

ha

Starting Year

2018

Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Resources Related to Conflict

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