Don't Mine Us Out of Existence

UPDATE: Apparently the tribes in Orissa have asked James Cameron, the director of record-winning film Avatar for his assistance in stopping Vedanta’s operations.

UK-based company is destroying the environment of indigenous people in Orissa.

Help to save lives in the Indian state of Orissa.

In my first blog post, I wrote about the plight of Adivasis in Orissa.  Well, we’ve done a report that has documented one such case in much more detail.

Dongria Kondh women at a protest meeting, Niyamgiri Hills, Orissa, India, 2009

Dongria Kondh women at a protest meeting, Niyamgiri Hills, Orissa, India, 2009. Copyright: Amnesty International

Indian authorities have given local communities little or no information about the potentially disastrous impact of a proposed aluminum refinery expansion and mining project to be operated by subsidiaries of UK-based company Vedanta Resources in the eastern state of Orissa.

We document how an aluminum refinery operated by a subsidiary of UK-based FTSE 100 company Vedanta Resources in Orissa is causing air and water pollution that threatens the health of local people and their access to clean drinking water.

Adivasi, Dalit, women and other marginalized communities in the remote part of Orissa where the refinery is located have described to us how authorities told them that the refinery would transform the area into a Mumbai or Dubai.

The Orissa State Pollution Control Board (a state government agency) has documented air and water pollution from Vedanta Aluminum refinery in Lanjigarh, Orissa. The pollution threatens the health of local people and their access to clean water yet there has been no health monitoring.

Despite these concerns and the environmentally sensitive location of the refinery near a river and villages, the government is considering a proposal for a very large expansion of the refinery. Neither the Indian authorities nor Vedanta have shared information on the extent of pollution and its possible effects with local communities.

The Orissa Mining Corporation and another Vedanta Resources subsidiary also plan to mine bauxite in the nearby Niyamgiri Hills. The proposed mine threatens the very existence of the Dongria Kondh, an 8,000 strong protected indigenous community that has lived on the Niyamgiri hills for centuries. The hills are considered sacred by the Dongria Kondh and are essential for their economic, physical and cultural survival, yet no process to seek the community’s informed consent has been established.

We are calling on the Government of Orissa and Vedanta Resources to ensure that there is no expansion of the refinery and mining does not go ahead until existing problems are resolved. Amnesty International is also calling for full consultation with local people and for the Indian authorities to set up a process to seek the free, prior and informed consent of the Dongria Kondh.

To see a video that documents some of the struggles of the people in this part of Orissa, please expand the entry.

AIUSA welcomes a lively and courteous discussion that follow our Community Guidelines. Comments are not pre-screened before they post but AIUSA reserves the right to remove any comments violating our guidelines.

12 thoughts on “Don't Mine Us Out of Existence

  1. Corporations will always fight for what is best for their bottom line. It is up to governments to fight for the best interests of their people. That's WHY there are governments at all.

  2. Corporations will always fight for what is best for their bottom line. It is up to governments to fight for the best interests of their people. That’s WHY there are governments at all.

  3. When did we lose our way? When did we choose short term gain accompanied by long term ruin. We are all stewards of this beautiful blue orb so we are all in one way or another responsible for the final outcome. Will we all, Corporations and individuals alike, respect Earth the way our Native populations showed us how? They were not "perfect" but compare their history to our modern one in caring for our planet…enough said.

  4. When did we lose our way? When did we choose short term gain accompanied by long term ruin. We are all stewards of this beautiful blue orb so we are all in one way or another responsible for the final outcome. Will we all, Corporations and individuals alike, respect Earth the way our Native populations showed us how? They were not “perfect” but compare their history to our modern one in caring for our planet…enough said.

  5. Joe: You are correct that the ultimate obligation lies with the government. The best way for corporations to behave is for governments to impose the right restrictions on them. But, corporations should realize that human rights violations can be bad for business

    Jorge: Great point. Thanks for commenting. I think it was the Lorax who pointed out that he had to speak for the trees for the trees have no tongue.

  6. Joe: You are correct that the ultimate obligation lies with the government. The best way for corporations to behave is for governments to impose the right restrictions on them. But, corporations should realize that human rights violations can be bad for business

    Jorge: Great point. Thanks for commenting. I think it was the Lorax who pointed out that he had to speak for the trees for the trees have no tongue.

  7. Pingback: Holi Human Rights, Batman | Human Rights Now - Amnesty International USA Blog

  8. Pingback: WTF, Vedanta Resources | Human Rights Now - Amnesty International USA Blog