A 16-member fact-finding team comprising members of the Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations that investigated violation of human rights in the villages in Niyamgiri hills in Kalahandi district has urged the Odisha government to close down the Vedanta alumina refinery at Lanjigarh without delay.
The members of the team, which visited several villages from April 26 to 28, said in their report that Vedanta had earlier planned to set up its alumina plant at Lanjigarh and mine bauxite from Niyamgiri. The refinery should be closed down since the tribals had rejected the mining plan and the Supreme Court had upheld the decision of the gram sabhas, the team said.
‘Withdraw false cases’
The team has further demanded that the government should withdraw all “false cases foisted against the tribals” and also close down the CRPF camp at Trilochanpur village which was set up against the resolution of the gram sabha.
The team demanded a judicial inquiry into the suspicious death of Havildar Major Sujit Minz by a sitting judge of the High Court, and requested for no arrest till the inquiry is over. Minz had died during a clash between villagers and security personnel outside the refinery gate on March 18.
The team members demanded that the tribals should be provided basic necessities such as school, teachers, drinking water and healthcare.
Alleging “brutalities by industrial security forces at the plant site and repression of tribals by paramilitary forces”, the team demanded that the government be more attentive towards its own citizens than the multinational company.
The fact-finding team concluded that the villagers living near the refinery were facing severe health problems because of dust coming from the red mud pond (waste generated by the refinery) site. It asked that the government should set up a committee to evaluate the pond’s impact on environment and order closure of the refinery to avoid a Thoothukudi-like situation in Kalahandi.