Gadchiroli Oct. 11 (District Correspondent) When the public hearing on Zendepar mining was going on at the collectorate of Gadchiroli on Oct. 10 under heavy police deployment, the tribals from Zendepar and other villages in Korchi taluka were staging protest in the village against the mining project.
‘Vikas Pahije- Vinash Nako, Jal Jangal Jameen Hamara Hai- Hamara Rahega, Jangal ki Raksha Kaun Karega–Ham Karenge- Ham Karenge, ‘Vinash Nahi- Vikas Chahiye’, were some of the slogans being shouted by the tribals gathered at the agitation site that filled the entire air. The crowd of the agitators included men, women and children too holding placards of demands in their hands.
We get several forest produces from the forest which are the means of our livelihood. Our living is based on the forest that is why we love it and will not allow anybody to snatch it away from us. All this will be lost once the mining is started. The entire forest will be turned into desert and our lives will be ruined, was the reaction of the participating tribal men and women. They were expressing their feelings on the proposed mining from the bottom of their heart, which was evident on their faces.
These tribals could not attend the public hearing organized by the Pollution Control Board hence they opted to organize a ‘Satyagraha’ in the village itself where the mining is going to be started by the private companies. The public hearing was a part of the mining project.
One of the agitators said it is not only the valuable forest and the environment that is going to be affected by the mining but our sacred deities will also be displaced which can not be tolerated at all. In the name of development, this is a destruction and nothing, he remarked.
The tribals narrated their feelings about the forest and the ill effects of the mining to some of the visiting media persons. The tribals have been opposing the mining for the past so many days and have submitted memorandums to the government authorities under the leadership of young leader Kranti Kerami but the hearing went on. The entire public hearing was unconstitutional. Why were we called for the hearing if the administration did not want to hear us, questioned Kerami. The further course of action will be decided in a day or two, he told this correspondent over phone.
Surprisingly enough, the voice of the leaders like Kerami and other anti- mine activists was not heard by the administration and they were put out of the hearing venue. Even the Sarpanchas in the area were not allowed to attend the hearing. There is thus quite a discontent among the Sarpanchas and other elected representatives of the area. They are planning a massive agitation to express their opposition to the mining.