Malkangiri: Over 2,000 people of five panchayats in Malkangiri district staged protests Sunday at Katamateru against mining of limestone at Matapaka and Niliguda panchayats.
Shouting slogans against the administration over mining, the agitating people said that they would not spare their land, forest and water for exploitation.
They stated that through the Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC), the state government had auctioned 200 acres of land for limestone mining at Matapaka and Niliguda panchayats in 2015-16 without the consent of the local people.
“Well before auction of the limestone mines, neither the state government, nor the OMC, nor the administration took locals into confidence. No palli sabha was held over the stone mining,” they added.
Over years, tribals have been living and depending on forests, they said, adding that the administration has not paid attention to development of the villages in the region.
People have been suffering for lack of proper communication, they added. The SC/ST welfare department has set up a high school at Katamateru.
Over 500 children study in the school, but they have to suffer in the absence of a pucca road from Matapaka to Katamateru.
“Over years, we are in misery as communication is still a problem in Katamateru, Niliguda, Koyagiri, Puruna Niliguda, Uskalbag. Telephony has been inaccessible.
Every village here has many widows, who are still deprived of pension. Many government schemes do not reach people. Farmers have to face distress sale of their crops every year. On the other hand, the government has been trying to displace them through mining,” the agitating people observed, adding that they would not let the conspiracy of the government take shape.
People from Kalimela, Katamateru, Nandibada, Uskalbag, Niliguda, Kayagiri and Iralgundi also stated that huge quantities of minor forest produce, groundnuts and sesame seeds are transported to other states, but the state government has never thought of setting up agro-based industries to process the local produce and market them.
They also pointed out that people in nine panchayats had been displaced due to the Chitrakonda reservoir, but many of them have not yet been rehabilitated.
“So, we have been opposing the mining of limestone in the area,” said the sarpanchs of Niliguda, Matapaka, Gorakhunta, Materu and Tandapalli.