Concerns Over Sijimali Bauxite Mines

Local villagers in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts of Odisha have voiced apprehensions regarding potential environmental degradation and loss of livelihood due to the proposed Sijimali Bauxite Mines by Vedanta Ltd. The concerns were raised during a public hearing held on October 18, 2023, for the proposed mining area spanning 1,549 hectares.

Public Hearing Details

The public hearing, attended by 1,500 villagers, officials from the State Pollution Control Board, Rayagada, additional district magistrate, and a representative from Sijimali Bauxite Mine, aimed to gather public input on the project. The minutes of the hearing, recently issued, reveal the depth of concerns expressed by the local community.

Allegations of Misinformation

Locals accused Vedanta of providing false information regarding the impact of the project on streams and forests. Naik asserted that the proposed mining activity would affect a diverse range of flora and fauna, endangering 73 types of trees, 21 varieties of grasses, and numerous mammals, reptiles, birds, and amphibians.

Environmental Impact on Livelihoods

The Sijimali and Karlapat forest areas are vital for the livelihoods of local tribal people who heavily rely on them for fuelwood and sustenance. He expressed concern that the mining project would severely hamper these dependencies and negatively impact around 50 villages in the surrounding area.

Disputed Project Details

The villagers contested Vedanta’s report, which stated that approximately 18 villages would be affected, claiming that the number was inaccurate. They also pointed to previous projects, such as the one by Utkal Alumina Ltd., that led to reduced livelihoods, degraded agricultural soil, and forced migration.

Environmental Hazards and Health Concerns

Local residents highlighted potential air pollution due to dust and vehicle movement associated with mining activities. They expressed worry about water scarcity, with the mining requiring a significant amount of freshwater daily. Concerns were also raised about water pollution and associated health issues, particularly respiratory problems, especially among pregnant women.



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