KORAPUT: Resistance against Hindalco’s Maliparbat bauxite mining grew as scores of tribal women, on Wednesday, demanded to cancel the second public hearing for environment clearance scheduled on November 22 .
Shouting slogans against Hindalco Group, hundreds of women from different villages under Semiliguda block gathered at the Collectorate and submitted a memorandum to Collector Md Abdaal Akhtar through ADM Rameshwar Pradhan in the connection. A copy of the same was also sent to the member secretary of the Odisha State Pollution control board (OSPCB).
Alleging police atrocity on villagers, the agitators said frequent raids are being conducted by the forces with the support of local police and administration to instil fear in the minds of the villagers. “Hindalco agents are going from village-to-village threatening people along with members of the Maliparbat Surakhya Samiti (MPSS) to not oppose the second public hearing,” alleged a woman agitator. Earlier, as many as 28 villagers including leaders of MPSS were arrested after the public hearing at Kankadamba village on September 22 was disrupted.
Protestors expressed their apprehensions about the meeting being held in a fair manner as most of their senior leaders leading the protest were behind bars. “Holding a public hearing in such a situation would be in gross violation of fundamental rights,” said another woman protestor. Vice-President of MPSS Delim Basa Khora said they are willing to have a discussion with the administration to resolve the issue only after the release of the jailed members of the anti-mining body. In April this year, Hindalco got an extension of lease for 50 years and was allowed to apply for fresh environmental clearance.