BHAWANIPATNA: The three-day annual Niyam Raja Parab began atop the Niyamgiri Hills in Kalahandi district on Friday.
Thousands of Dongria Kondhs, Jharania Kondhs and Kutia Kondhs turned up even as voices of dissent were heard over ‘alleged conspiracy’ to initiate bauxite mining in the hills.
All the headmen of 162 villages assembled at ‘Disari Anlabhata (Dhangrabhata)’ and began ‘khamba puja’. Dressed in traditional attire and beating of drums, they performed the Niyam Raja rituals which will conclude at Ejurupa village in Lanjigarh block on Sunday. This will also mark animal and bird sacrifice.
Intellectuals, tribal leaders, social and green activists from across the country have also gathered to gauge the sentiments of the Kondhs on mining in the hills.
The tribals have been opposing mining in the hills since long. Although the issue was closed after the Supreme Court turned down permission to mine bauxite from the hills after 12 Gram Sabhas opposed the move, fresh attempt is being made by the State Government to get clearance from the apex court through Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC).