The Government of India has given the British mining company Vendata resources final approval for the bauxite mine on the Niyamgiri Mountain of Orissa, India.
The Dongria Kondh live in the southern hills of the Indian state of Orissa.
According to David Lepeska, "the jungles of Dandakaranya spill across the heart of India like a great green inkblot, blanketing parts of five states. Within this verdant expanse lives a vast collection of animals and plants uniquely adapted to relentless heat and oceans of rain. Equally attuned to these environs are the DongriaKondh, a tribal people who inhabit the Niyamgiri Hills of southeastern Orissa , along the vast forest's eastern rim."
'This mountain is our Lord,' says Sundara Kadraka, the chief of Tebapada, a dust-speck Dongria village perched atop a foothill, miles from the nearest road. The fierce-eyed 40-year-old is standing amid bright-green sprouts of ragi (finger millet) and gazing up at the cloud-crowned peaks of Niyamgiri mountain. 'It has given us vegetables, fruit, animals, shelter, water -- everything we need -- for all of time. We will never leave, especially now that our mountain is in danger.' (Lepeska, 2009)
'In 2001, surveyors came and asked them: "What is your religion?" and they said: "Our religion is mountains." This is the most profound answer you can have because the Dongria understand that their lives depend on the health of the mountains -- that really answers the divinity aspect.'
The Dongria Kondh, a tribe in Orissa, are struggling to protect the Niyamgiri hills from an open-cast bauxite mine proposed by Vedanta Resources. The Dongria Kondh regard themselves as the traditional caretakers of the hills, which they believe to home to their God, Niyamraja Penu. They say the hills must remain inviolate, and protected at all costs.
Vendata billionaire owner, Anil Agarwal, says the mine will bring jobs and improve healthcare and eductaion.
The Dongria Kondh were schocked when Action Aid told them that Vendata is going to start digging an open-pit mine to obtain bauxite, the ore from which aluminium is extracted.
The name Dongria comes from the root donger, which means "hill" in Oriya. They call themselves Jharnia, meaning 'protector of streams', because they guard their sacred mountains and the life-giving rivers that rise within the thick forests.
Survival’s Director Corry said: "The Dongria Kondh don't want this mine, which would destroy the lives of many of them. Will the Orissa government now stop supporting a multibillion dollar British mining company, and start protecting its own citizens?"
Lepeska, David. "The last stand of Niyam Raja." Geographical (London, England: 1997) 81.8 (2009): 38-42.