Thursday, November 03, 2005

Bauxite deposits in South Orissa

India has 8% of the bauxite deposits in the world, out of which 75% deposits are in Orissa.The major bauxite deposits are located in the Schedule V areas in Kalahandi, Rayagada and Koraput districts with the only largescale mining being done by NALCO on Panchapatamali of Koraput district. The bauxite deposits which are of very good quality have attracted multinationals like Vedanta, BHP Billiton as well as Indian Corporates such as Hindalco for mining, fefing of alumina and for smelting aluminium. At least three alumina refineries based on bauxite mining are planned in South Orissa at present including Vedanta's alumina refinery at Lanjigarh, the controversial UAIL mining and alumina refinery in Kashipur and the Aditya Aluminium plant somewhere near Kodinga Mali.

These mining and refinery projects have been a major source of controversy, with the local tribals opposing proposed mining projects tooth and nail, and the State Government using all possible strategies, including coercion and repression to make these deposits available to mining multinationals. The resistance of Kashipur tribals against UAIL’s mining project and alumina refinery has been going on for over 10 years now. Similarily, flashpoints are building up near proposed bauxite mining on Niyamgiri by Vedanta, Sunger by L&T, Kodingamali by Aditya Aluminium and Maliparbat by Hindalco. The bauxite deposits are all located on top of the highest mountains in South Orissa which are called Malis, and are sacred to tribals as they are source of large number of perennial streams. These streams are vital to local tribals as they are often the only source of water for drinking and irrigation of fields in summer season, and sustain the local agricultural economy. This realization has created massive resistance against bauxite mining amongst tribals. The major bauxite deposits of Orissa are given as below:

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