Monday 29th July 2013. This morning the seventh village – Phuldumer – again voted unanimously to reject Vedanta’s mine. This means the majority have now spoken, and Niyamgiri is saved by the people’s vote as sanctioned by the Supreme Court of India! In Odisha activists are already celebrating after months of hard work to ensure this precedent legal process was fair, and not manipulated. This victory also shows the amazing strength of Niyamgiri’s the people. Despite all Vedanta and the Odisha state government’s attempts to subvert the process: by threatening villagers with guns and violence, by selecting just twelve villages, by choosing corrupt judges – Niyamgiri villagers have united, across caste, class and district to defend the mountain that gives them life and livelihood.
There are over 300 villages who depend on and worship the Niyamgiri hill range. Today 240 km2 of mountain looks to have been saved, not to mention the hope and fighting strength that this victory will give to others fighting Vedanta, and similar industrial projects, elsewhere. We will be celebrating this amazing victory for people’s movements, people’s democracy and grassroots international solidarity at Vedanta’s AGM on Thursday. Kumuti Majhi, a Kond tribal and leader of Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti said on Friday: ‘We thank the Judges who gave us a opportunity to voice our opinion. We are hoping that the rest of the villages will vote no.’
This is. of course, not the absolute end of the line. When the other five villages have held palli sabhas, the resolution agreed at Niyamgiri will go to the Tribal Affairs minister of Odisha, and then be passed to the Ministry of Environment and Forests who will give the ultimate nod. However, with such an unanimous verdict, and the national media of India following every move, the MoEF will have a very hard time opposing the people’s decision.
More details on the latest Batudi and Phuldumer village palli sabhas below.
25th July 2013
The prospects for Vedanta’s Niyamgiri mine are looking even more remote as the results of the Palli Sabhas being held on the command of the Supreme Court’s April judgement on the mine, flood in.
Five Palli Sabhas have now been held, affirming the thundering NO to the proposed mine expressed in the initial Serkapadhi meeting. In fact the villagers strengthened the resolution, becoming wise to the administrations attempts to make them sign resolutions they may not fully understand, and denying them photocopies, as had occurred in the first Palli Sabha. According to an article by ‘Down to Earth’ at the beginning of the Kesarpadhi meeting on Monday, Dondu Kutruka, a young Dongria Kondh ‘demanded the joint verification report by the state government, that proposed to settle the villagers’ community and religious claims to the forests, be rejected. “You people wrote everything in the office and never came to the village to verify. Now write whatever we say correctly and read it out. You cannot make a fool of us every time,” he warned the chair.
On 18th July 2013 the first of 12 village council (Palli Sabha) meetings was held at Serkapadi village on the Niyamgiri Hills, and the 36 registered voters from the village who attended voted unanimously to oppose the Vedanta mine, a resounding NO which sets the tone for the following meetings.
Supporting the attendees were hundreds of Dongria and Kutia Kond from other villages on and around the mountain some of whom had camped overnight to ensure they would not be stopped by the four platoons of CRPF police forces stationed on the mountain, on their way. With bystanders looking on from the edges of the meeting, the 36 participants gave defiant speeches against the mine and after much argument with the district judge. Continue reading Dongria say emphatic no to mining in first Palli Sabha yesterday!→