The experiences of those around the Lanjigarh refinery have percolated across the mountains, where the tribes, who would have been affected by the proposed bauxite mine atop Niyamgiri, remain afraid and apprehensive.
For the Dongria Kondh, a primitive tribal group, protected under Schedule V of the Constitution, who populate the steep slopes of the Niyamgiri hills, the danger is real and immediate.
But the stalling of Vedanta's hilltop mining plans is validation of what they have believed for long.
"Without the jungle, I have no hope for living. If they (Vedanta) come here, our air, water and forests will be polluted. The first right to the jungle is mine, and I am happy that they will not be coming here," Barih Majih, a Dongria Kondh from Pal Beri village, says.
Vedanta's proposed mining lease area would have required the axing of 121,337 trees, apart from affecting over 20 per cent of the total Dongria Kondh population, the NC Saxena panel had assessed.
But a similarly significant, if indirect, impact would also have to be shouldered by the primitive Kutia Kondh tribe, which inhabits the lower reaches of the Niyamgiri hills.
Image: Dongria Kondh children swing from a tree in Niyamgiri forests.
Image Courtesy: Survival International
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