Tribe stages mass protest against British company Vedanta

May 8, 2008

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Hundreds of members of the remote Dongria Kondh tribe held a protest in India yesterday against the British FTSE 100 company VEDANTA, which plans to mine their sacred mountain. Vedanta is owned by London-based Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal.

The Dongria Kondh marched through Bhubaneswar, the capital of Orissa state, and staged a sit-down protest on Mahatma Gandhi Street, which leads to the state assembly.

Jitu Jakasika, a young Dongria Kondh man, told the Indian Telegraph newspaper, ‘If the mining project is allowed, it will destroy the hill’s ecosystem and will dry up two major rivers and 36 streams. To add to that, it will destroy the livelihoods of 10,000 tribals and the religious sanctity of our beloved Niyamgiri.’

Survival has launched a campaign targeting Vedanta, and is urging shareholders, including major British companies Standard Life, Barclays Bank, Abbey National and HSBC, as well as Middlesbrough and Wolverhampton Councils, to disinvest unless Vedanta abandons its plans.

Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘If Vedanta goes ahead with this mine, the Dongria Kondh will be destroyed. They cannot survive as a people without their land. The Norwegian government has already sold its shares in Vedanta, and other investors should follow suit, or face boycotts over their human rights record.’

Vedanta’s subsidiary, Sterlite, is currently awaiting permission from India’s Supreme Court to mine bauxite, the raw material for aluminium, from Niyamgiri mountain in Orissa, eastern India. The Court is expected to announce its decision imminently.

Photos of the Dongria Kondh available. For further information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]

Dongria Kondh