Probe completed

Published: Sunday 30 November 2003

The commission inquiring into the death of three tribal protesters in police firing in Orissa's Rayagada district seems to have made light of the local people's concern over bauxite mining. Justice P K Mishra of the Madras High Court, who is the sole member of the panel, observed in his recently submitted report: "Orissa cannot afford to remain backward for the sake of so-called environmental protection."

The incident took place on December 16, 2000, when pro and anti-mining groups clashed in Kashipur block of Rayagada, and the police opened fire to disperse the violent mobs (see: 'Battling bauxite', Down To Earth, 'Battling bauxite', January 15, 2001).

According to the commission, "Extraction of bauxite need not have any significant adverse impact on the environment, particularly relating to protection of water." At the same time, the panel noted in a relatively circumspect tone: "A balance has to be struck between the need for growth and necessity for protection of environment." Significantly, it has not recommended any punitive measures against the police department.

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