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Tribals from Odisha’s Malkangiri oppose cement plant, warn panchayat poll boycott

By Express News Service

MALKANGIRI: Thousands of tribals from Malkangiri and Podia blocks assembled at Katamateru on Sunday to voice their opposition to a proposed cement plant by Dalmia Cements near the village, and warned to boycott the upcoming panchayat polls if the government doesn’t pay heed to their demands. 

Armed with traditional weapons, more than 2,000 villagers from the two blocks attended the meeting and vowed not to spare an inch of land for the proposed cement plant. They were seen raising slogans against the administration for turning a deaf ear to their protest since long.

The administration is ignoring the fight of tribals for a genuine cause. Residents of Matteru and Niliguda under Podia block and Sikhpalli, Matapaka and Tandapalli under Malkangiri block depend on the forest for livelihood which would be affected if the project materialises, the protestors claimed. 

“The forest is our mother and we cannot be lured to part with it. Money is not important for us and we 
won’t hand over our land to the company under any circumstance. If the government doesn’t listen to us, we will boycott the upcoming polls,” the villagers said during the meeting.

Joining the protest, Congress leader and Kalimela block chairman Mala Madhi shared that a public hearing for the project is likely to be conducted on January 12. “The company was awarded the tender without consent of the palli sabha and gram sabha, which is mandatory on part of the government,” he said.
 

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