ROURKELA: The anti-Posco villagers opposing the proposed mining at Khandadhar in Bonai Assembly segment are upbeat over the elevation of BJP Lok Sabha member Jual Oram as Minister of Tribal Affairs. They are also buoyant after the victory of CPM’s Laxman Munda from Bonai Assembly segment. While campaigning in the segment during elections, both Jual and Laxman had taken a hard line stand against Posco.
Khandadhar Mahila Suraksha Samiti president Baita Pradhan of Paudi Bhuiyan tribe said she and several others are forced to live with apprehension of losing their natural habitat for the last seven years. They have now pinned their hopes on Jual and Laxman to get relief, she said.
A host of anti-Posco activists residing in several villages in the vicinity of Khandadhar waterfall said mining would destroy the scenic beauty of the environmentally rich region.
Sources said though Jual won from Sundargarh Lok Sabha seat, the BJP leader has reasons to worry as he polled 47,684 votes from Bonai against 52,926 secured by hockey icon and BJD nominee Dilip Tirkey. Moreover, the CPM legislator of Bonai also won with a narrow margin of 1818 votes against his BJD rival Dayanidhi Kisan.
Before his victory, Jual had said, “At no cost, iron ore mining would be allowed in Khandadhar as local tribals are emotionally and religiously attached to it. Posco should be ousted from Odisha for larger interest of the State and nation.”
Four months ago, the BJD-led Odisha Government had made its second recommendation to grant Prospective Licence (PL) to Posco at Khandadhar.
With Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik resuming office for the fourth consecutive term, the BJD Government is likely to push for mining in Khandadhar region.
Jual said his stand over Khandadhar remains unchanged and he is committed to protect it from mining. In fact, Posco’s mining proposal will be reviewed by the NDA Government in which Jual is a Cabinet Minister. The CPM legislator also reiterated Jual’s stand.