Geosicientists support bauxite mining atop Niyamgiri Hills

BHUBANESWAR: Criticising undue political interference and NGO activism, a Odisha-based geoscientists' body today favoured bauxite mining atop Niyamgiri Hills, saying it would in no way affect the lifestyle of tribals and their century-old socio-cultural and religious practises. 

"With adequate safeguards provided for protection of environment, forests, rights and traditions of tribal people, mining of bauxite, which is eco-friendly, should be permitted for larger interest of the state and its backward region," 
Society of Geoscientists and Allied Technologists (SGTA) advisor B K Mohanty told reporters here. 

Optimistic of bauxite mining at Niyamgiri despite stiff opposition from different groups, Mohanty said, "We hope the political class and NGOs will allow this to happen." 

Rejecting fears that bauxite mining may led to drying up of rivers and streams, he said under no circumstances it would affect flow of water from the streams downhill. 

Studies by Central Mining Planning nd Design Institute (CMPDI) show that mining will not affect the water regime, he pointed out. 

On possible impact on the abode of Niyam Raja, the presiding deity of Dangaria tribals, SGTA said proposed mining area is about 10 km away from the place of worship. 

There is no possibility of mining operations affecting the religious rites of the tribal population of the area and neither the abode of the deity will be in any way affected, he maintained. 

Setting aside apprehension of mining affecting wildlife and bio-diversity of Niyamgiri, the geoscientists said the area proposed for mining was neither a wildlife sanctuary, national park nor a biosphere reserve. 

Besides, the population of wildlife in the area is very thin as revealed by 
Wildlife Institute of India. 

Alleging that the Ministries of Tribal Affairs and Rural Development and NGOs were working overtime to stall mining of bauxite at Niyamgiri Hills, SGAT asked, "Why these people did not all these years ever contribute anything to improve the lot of Dangoria Kondha tribals?" 

The geoscientists also claimed bauxite being a major mineral, issues relating to it could not be dragged to the ambit of PESA (panchayat extension of scheduled area) Act.