Rahul Gandhi speaks out against British company’s plan to mine sacred mountain

March 13, 2008

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Rahul Gandhi, general secretary of India’s ruling Congress Party, has spoken out against British company Vedanta’s plans to mine the Dongria Kondh tribe’s sacred mountain.

After meeting some of the Dongria Kondh in the Niyamgiri hills last week, Rahul Gandhi said, ‘Personally I feel mining the hill will destroy the environment, destroy the water supply source and destroy the culture as well as the livelihood of tribals.’

The company Vedanta Resources plc wants to mine bauxite in the Niyamgiri hills in Orissa, eastern India. In November, India’s Supreme Court rejected Vedanta’s plans 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. India’s Supreme Court is expected to decide imminently whether to approve Sterlite’s application.

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

Rahul Gandhi is the son of Congress party president Sonia Gandhi, and Rajiv Gandhi, former prime minister of India who was assassinated in 1991.

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

Dongria Kondh