Tribal matters – Odisha

According to ‘Asianage’ the Tribal Museum at Koraput, a scheduled tribal area, is to close. It was started by some enthusiastic researchers and intellectuals led by Mr Krushna Chandra Panigrahi in 1992 with the aim of preserving the art and artefacts of over 62 local tribal communities including Paraja, Didayi, Koya, Bonda, Lanjia Soura and Gadhva. Lack of funds and government patronage for maintenance of the museum has led to its current poor state. According to researcher Dr Gouranga Charan Rout “The age-old traditional and cultural practices are declining fast due to the onslaught of modern influences and they can be preserved only through an institution like this tribal museum.” This will be a sad loss.

At the other end of the scale Lanjigarh refinery, owned by Vedanta, is to get enough bauxite to keep it from closing. It seems as if the company has at last given up its vigorous attempts to get legal permission to rip off the top of the Niyamgiri Hills that have been home and sacred to the Dongria Kondh tribe for centuries. Instead the State Government has agreed to provide raw materials from the Kodingamali bauxite mines District leased to Odisha Mining Corporation. It so happens that the mines lie within Koraput District. Ironic.