RAIPUR: A protest march by the tribal villagers on Friday against the allocation of south Chhattisgarh’s Bailadila iron ore Deposit-13 at Kirandul in Dantewada to Adani Enterprise Limited (AEL) was purportedly 'instigated and supported' by the outlawed CPI (Maoist).
Pamphlets and the leaflets nailed by the naxalites exhorted the villagers to join the agitation rally on July 7 intended against giving away the iron ore deposit to AEL were traced from different areas of the strife-torn district, about 450 km south of Raipur.
“We have recovered Maoist pamphlets inciting the innocent tribals to push ahead the struggle against awarding the Bailadila iron ore Deposit-13. Many villagers turned up owing to fear but the figure didn't cross 2000. There was neither any official permission taken for this rally nor any gram panchayat approved to participate in it. It’s illegal. If there is any issue regarding the tribal deities in the mining hills, it should have been put forth before the government instead of such protest rally without seeking approval”, said Abhishek Pallava, the Dantewada district police chief.
Bailadila iron ore deposits are owned by the union government. To commence mining activities, the central public sector unit (PSU) NMDC and the state PSU Chhattisgarh Mineral Development Corporation Ltd (CMDC) formed a joint venture in 2008. NMDC conducted Gram Sabhas between 2010 to 2014, availed environment clearance in 2015 and forest clearance in January 2017. Subsequently in 2017, the mining lease was transferred to the government-owned joint venture company NMDC-CMDC Ltd (NCL). In January 2018 around 10 companies expressed interest to participate in the global competitive bid for development and operation of Bailadila iron ore Deposit no-13. AEL finally qualified the terms and conditions illustrated in the tender process following which NCL appointed AEL as Mining Contractor by awarding iron ore mining contract n December 2018.
According to the AEL official statement, they only provide the support as an experience and responsible Mining Contractor towards growth while the NCL continues to own these mines.
Interestingly, Congress leaders came out in support of the tribals who joined the demonstration apparently incited by the rebels. Industry minister Kawasi Lakhma who is from Konta (Sukma) and former Dantewada MLA Devti Karma stood in support of the villagers, though they claimed their support is for the cause of tribals and not the Maoists.
Over 25000 villagers were expected to participate in the rally but just around two thousand were seen. Around 400 police personnel in civil dress and another 600 in uniform were deployed at the venue to ensure foolproof security in and around the mining areas.
The rally was reportedly fomented by a forum ‘Rajya Daman Visthapan Virodhi Manch’. There was however no interruption in the routine mining activities.