The suspension of environmental 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 85km 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 fear of losing their natural habitat, said Pradhan.
Social activist Bideshini Patel asserted that the fight for saving the waterfall will continue 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 BJD has emerged stronger in the rural poll. POSCO had applied for mining rights for over 2,500 hectare at Khandadhar in Lahunipara block of the Bonai sub-division in Sundargarh district. State Bharatiya Janata Party president Jual Oram said at no cost would POSCO be allowed to enter Khandadhar. Welcoming NGT’s decision, he hoped it would consider Khandadhar too … Read More >