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Odisha tribe to continue battle against Vedanta 'regardless of Supreme Court ruling'

Bhubaneswar, Mon, 09 Apr 2012 ANI

Bhubaneswar, Apr 9 (ANI): The Indian tribal group Dongria Kondh, who have been struggling for years to preserve their ancestral lands from exploitation by British mining corporation Vedanta, has vowed to continue their fight irrespective of Supreme Court's decision today.

The Supreme Court will decide today on an appeal by Vedanta against a ministerial decision in 2010 that stopped work at the site in the Niyamgiri hills of Odisha.

An alliance of local tribes has now formed to defend the Dongria Khondh.

According to The Guardian, Kumity Majhi, a leader of the Majhi Kondh adivasi, said local communities would stop the mining 'whether or not the supreme court favour us'.

"We, the Majhi Kondh adivasis, will help our Dongria Kondh brothers in protecting the mountains," the paper quoted Majhi, as saying.

The paper also quoted Lingaraj Azad, a leader of the Save Niyamgiri Committee, as saying that 'the Dongria Kondh's campaign was not just that of an isolated tribe for its customary rights over its traditional lands and habitats, but that of the entire world over protecting our natural heritage'.

Vedanta, which wants the bauxite for an alumina refinery it has built near the hills, requires clearance under the country's forest and environmental laws.

It had obtained provisional permission, but failed to satisfy laws protecting the forests and granting rights to local tribal groups.

A government report accused the firm of violations of forest conservation, tribal rights and environmental protection laws in Orissa, a charge subsequently repeated by a panel of forestry experts.

According to the report, the Supreme Court may decide to send the case to the newly constituted national green tribunal, a body of legal and technical experts, to consider once more. (ANI)

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