There is an unusual combination of fear and fortitude on show, as the fight over Niyamgiri Hills finally draws to a close.
Even though Vedanta Resource's proposal to mine bauxite at the sacred mountain in Orissa's Kalahandi district is rejected, for thousands of tribals like Laksa Majhi, who for countless generations have lived in the shadow of Niyamgiri, the insecurities persist.
"I, like my forefathers, have served Niyam Raja," Laksa says, referring to the revered tribal deity said to reside on the mountain above. "But if the government wants to sell Niyamgiri, they should kill us first. Otherwise, we will slowly die even as we live. We are born of this earth, and this earth is ours. Niyamgiri belongs to us."
It isn't that the adverse reaction towards Vedanta Resources is perfunctory.
The Anil Agarwal-owned entity is a known quantity here. Vedanta has already established a one-million tonne per annum (MTPA) alumina refinery at Lanjigarh, right below Niyamgiri.
But there is resentment at the way Vedanta has gone about its business here, and consternation at its treatment of local stakeholders.
Image: In this photo taken Tuesday, March 23, 2010, workers are seen entering the main gate of the Vedanta alumina refinery at Lanjigarh, Orissa.
Text: Devjyot Ghoshal, Business Standard
Also see: Vedanta's Agarwal - A daring dreamer