KORAPUT: Resistance against Maliparbat bauxite mines has gathered momentum with tribals as well as activists from across districts upping their ante ahead of the public hearing for environment clearance by the Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) on September 22.
Hundreds of people from three panchayats of Semiliguda block took part in a protest meeting convened on Friday to resist renewed operations at Maliparbat mines.
The agitators gathered under the banner of Maliparbat Surakhya Samiti (MPSS), the organisation resisting Hindalco Group’s efforts as it seeks a fresh lease to restart mining.
The public hearing by OSPCB will be held at Kankadaamba village.
Tribals alleged that resumption of mining activities would affect around 42 villages under Sorishapodar, Dalaiguda and Pakhajhola panchayats.
Water sources from around 32 perennial streams and four canals in Maliparbat, that feed their farmlands, would be depleted as a result of mining from the hills, adversely affecting their livelihoods.
Spread over 270 acres and 40 km from Koraput at Doliamba village, Maliparbat mine was leased to Hindalco in 2006 which failed to carry out operations due to stiff resistance from the tribals, resulting in expiry of the lease terms.
Though bauxite excavation resumed for a brief period in 2012, it had to be halted as protesters opposed transportation of the mineral.
Addressing the meeting, activist Lingraj Azad appealed to the tribals to not get influenced by the promises of the corporate houses.
Instances of a South Indian company contracted for excavation and transportation of bauxite trying to influence poor tribals through money have come to fore. Government must prioritise ecology over economy in a bid to preserve the natural resources, added Azad.