Survival International targets consultancy firm CO3 over Vedanta

Survival International has targeted corporate social responsibility consultancy CO3 for representing British mining company Vedanta Resources, and is urging CO3 to resign its account in the interest of human rights. Vedanta, run by London-based Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal, plans to mine for bauxite on a mountain sacred to the remote Dongria Kondh tribe of Orissa, India.

The Norwegian Government’s Pension Fund withdrew its investment in Vedanta following a report by their Council of Ethics that an association with Vedanta and its subsidiaries carries, ‘an unacceptable risk of complicity in present and future severe environmental damage and systematic human rights violations.’ CO3 is at risk of such complicity by continuing to provide Vedanta with ‘CSR’ services.

Edinburgh-based Martin Currie investment managers sold its £2.3million stake in Vedanta earlier this year due to doubts over this bauxite project, and the BP Pension Fund reduced its holdings in Vedanta due to ‘concerns about the way the company operates.’

The 8,000 Dongria Kondh, one of India’s most isolated tribes, vehemently oppose the mine, saying it will end their way of life forever. Vedanta plans to turn the Dongria’s sacred mountain into a vast open cast mine, which will destroy a swathe of untouched forest. The Dongria Kondh have lived in the Niyamgiri Hills since time immemorial, and are totally dependent on its forests. They grow crops on the slopes, and gather wild fruit in the dense forests.

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

Rahul Gandhi, general secretary of India’s ruling Congress Party, has also spoken out against the mine.

Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘People who care about human rights should boycott British companies which dispossess tribal peoples and companies representing them. That includes British consultancies like CO3, which parrots Vedanta’s denials that the Dongria Kondh people face destruction’.

ENDS

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]

Notes to Editors:

- Survival International has a track record of successful campaigns targeting companies who operate on tribal peoples’ lands without their consent. Following lobbying by Survival, De Beers sold its concession to mine diamonds on the land of the Kalahari Bushmen in Botswana. In the 1990s, Mobil backtracked on plans to explore for oil in the Peruvian Amazon after a long Survival campaign.