British mining company to devastate sacred mountain

January 21, 2008

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A British company, Vedanta Resources plc, looks likely to be given the go-ahead for a mine that will devastate the Dongria Kondh tribe’s sacred mountain.

In November, India’s Supreme Court rejected Vedanta’s plans to mine bauxite in the Niyamgiri hills in Orissa, eastern India, because of the company’s record on human rights and the environment. But the Orissa state government has now agreed to run the mine as a joint venture with Vedanta’s Indian subsidiary, Sterlite Industries.

The Supreme Court may decide as early as this week whether to approve Sterlite’s application to mine in the Niyamgiri hills.

In its November ruling the court demanded that the companies produce funding and a plan for ‘tribal development’. Survival’s recent report ‘Progress can kill’, shows that imposing unwanted development on tribal peoples is disastrous for their physical and mental health.

The 10,000 Dongria Kondh live by subsistence farming in the forests of the Niyamgiri (‘mountain of the law’) hill range.

‘We cannot live without our Niyamgiri,’ says Dandu Sikaka, a Dongria Kondh woman. ‘We need the mountain and the mountain needs us.’

Survival has written to the Supreme Court judges, urging them not to allow the mining of Niyamgiri.

Dongria Kondh