Setback for Posco plant, relief for tribes

ROURKELA: The suspension of environment clearance to Posco plant has come as a big relief for the primitive Paudi Bhuiyan tribes here. The Paudi Bhuiyans along with other tribal communities hope to sustain their protest against mining by Posco in and around the proposed iron ore mining site at Khandadhar. The villagers in and around the bio-rich reserve, about 85 km from Rourkela, are apprehensive of losing their ancestral land to the company.  They fear massive iron ore mining by Posco would destroy the Khandadhar reserve and hence have been fighting a sustained battle to impress upon the State Government to explore other mining areas.

Khandadhar Mahila Suraksha Samiti president Baita Pradhan, an illiterate Paudi Bhuiyan, does not understand much of the implication of NGT’s order, but is aware that something favourable had taken place. For the past five years, she and others are living in the fear of losing their natural habitat, said Pradhan.

Social activist Bideshini Patel asserted to continue the fight for saving the waterfall and appealed to the State Government to explore ways to tap the tribal tourism instead of forcibly changing the natural lifestyle of the Paudi Bhuiyan tribe.

Sources said political equations surrounding the Khandadhar mining issue have undergone a sea change as the ruling BJD has emerged stronger in the rural elections.

 Yet, State BJP president Jual Oram continues to be firm. Jual said at no cost Posco would be allowed to enter Khandadhar. He welcomed the NGT’s decision and hoped it would consider the environmentally fragile  Khandadhar too.

Posco had applied for mining rights for over 2,500 hectare at Khandadhar in Lahunipara block of the Bonai sub-division in Sundargarh district.

[Source – Express Buzz]