After my first posting about trek on Niyamgiri hills, I couldn’t write remaining stories due to some priority works. I have a lot to say about the wonderful things I saw in jungles of Niyamgiri- its people, living style and nature. Only my worry is that, I am not a writer to reproduce in words, the exciting beauty of Niyamgiri jungles I have seen through my eyes. A picture can say many things than a word can do, so the snaps taken by me may help me to describe the things. Before that I would like mention recent development and controversy over Niyamgiri hills.
The beauty of the Niyamgiri hills and its inhabitants are exciting but can it be survive with the recent developments in the area? This is the question arrived in my mind after the trek on the hills of Niyamgiri. It is not certain that how many days it remain virgin, any day bulldozers may roll over her and loss virginity forever and Niyamgiri might soon become history. The hill is in controversy for last many years on the issue of mining by a mining giant Vedanta for bauxite, which is richly available in these hills.
The plan for invasion into the privacy of Niyamgiri starts from 1997 after a MOU signed by Vedanta and Orissa government to establish a Aluminum refinery in Lanjigarh area and to mining in Niyamagiri spreading over Kalhandi and Rayagada Districts of Orissa. In 2003 Vedanta applied to Ministry of Environment and Forest, India for a environmental clearance for establishing aluminum refinery , not for a environmental clearance to mining for bauxite in forest lands of Niyamagiri and the ministry granted environmental clearance to the refinery, subject to the company getting mining clearance before the refinery came into operation. After that many disputes and discussion were there in the Supreme Court of India and outside on granting permission-environmental clearance for mining in order to preserve the wildlife habitat and environment. Finally in 2008 December environmental clearance for mining in Niyamgiri obtained by Vedanta.
But the environmental clearance is not the final, what is going to do with the poor tribes living in the area, those who believe the Niyamgiri is their God, and their lively hood is cultivation in forest land only? What are the measures going to be taken to prevent from environmental pollution? How to going to preserve the wildlife habitat?The environmentalists, NGO’s, social reformers and peoples (tribes) in the area are still agitating against the decision taken by the authority to grant permission for mining. What will be the fate of Niyamgiri hills?