Tribe dances in mass protest against British mining company

October 22, 2008

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Hundreds of members of the Dongria Kondh tribe danced and sang through the capital of the Indian state of Orissa on Monday, armed with traditional weapons, to mark their opposition to British company Vedanta’s plans to mine their sacred mountain.

A huge procession of the tribe and their supporters snaked through the Orissan capital, Bhubaneswar.

The FTSE 100 British company Vedanta, majority owned by London-based billionaire Anil Agarwal, has received the go-ahead from India’s Supreme Court to mine aluminium ore on the Dongria’s land. The mine would destroy the forests and streams the Dongria depend on, and would turn their sacred mountain into an industrial wasteland.

Dongria man Jitu Jakesika said at the demonstration, ‘We will carry on our struggle to save Niyamgiri at any cost.’

Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘If further proof were needed that the Dongria Kondh are determined to stop Vedanta, this would be it. The Dongria know that the mine would destroy them. Vedanta must heed their voices and pull out of this project.’

Last week Survival submitted a report to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Issues, saying, 'Mining will devastate what the Dongria Kondh hold sacred and the natural resources from which they draw their specific identity as a people.'

Many British banks and pension funds invest in Vedanta, including the Universities pension fund (USS), F&C, Standard Life, Barclays Bank, Abbey National and HSBC, as well as Middlesbrough and Wolverhampton Councils. Survival is campaigning for investors to pull out of Vedanta.

For more information please contact Miriam Ross at Survival International (44) (0)20 7687 8734 or (44) (0)7504 543 367 or email [email protected]

Dongria Kondh