Protests at the Vedanta Resources Annual Meeting Led by Bianca Jagger

The Amnesty International section in the UK announced today that Bianca Jagger (ex-wife of Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger) has submitted 30,000 signatures on a petition asking Vedanta Resources, a large UK-based company to respect the human rights of the Dongria Kondh people of the Indian state of Orissa (see more, here and here).

The petition adds yet more voices to a chorus of criticism of Vedanta’s governance and ethical standards. Last week responsible investment research specialists EIRIS published recommendations to address investors’ concerns about Vedanta’s environmental, social and governance practices. Dutch pension manager PGGM divested their £11m stake in the company earlier this month.

Vedanta Resources, through its subsidiary companies, plans to mine for bauxite in the Niyamgiri Hills, considered sacred by the indigenous Dongria Kondh community. The proposed mine may also threaten the community’s rights to water, food, health and work. Final permission for the projects is pending with the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests, whose expert panel is due to report their findings shortly.

Bianca Jagger said:

I appeal to investors – including local UK councils who still hold shares in Vedanta – to listen to the voices of the Dongria Kondh and consider the human rights consequences of the proposed mine. I will continue to campaign in support of the Dongria Kondh until their demands are heard.

Let’s hope that Vedanta will heed her words.

WTF, Vedanta Resources

Despite the bad publicity (and sternly worded blog posts from me, here and here), the UK-owned corporation Vedanta Resources and the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests show no signs of backing down from this polluting project.  I also haven’t heard whether James Cameron has taken up the tribe’s plea for assistance.  I guess he’s pretty busy at the Oscar’s tonight, but wouldn’t it be great if he said something about this at the awards ceremony?

All in all, this really sucks for the people there because the air and water in Lanjigarh, Orissa are really nasty.  Heck even the Orissa State Pollution Control Board says so.  It’s a pretty grim situation that we’ve documented extensively in this report.

That leaves you– you can take action here.   In case you need to be guilt-tripped into taking the action, see this video below.  In other words, PLEASE take action.

Holi Human Rights, Batman

Hindus all over the world are preparing to celebrate Holi, the festival which celebrates the victory of good over evil.  Prahalad, the human rights defender prevailed over the Hiranyakashipu (his father), the human rights violator.

Hiranyakashipu uses his more or less omnipotent powers to violate the human rights of Prahalad by attempting to poison Prahalad, trample Prahalad with elephants, placed Prahalad in a room full of hungry, poisonous snakes and made to sit in a funeral pyre with his evil sister.  All these efforts to squash the freedom to practice Prahalad’s religious beliefs failed and Hiranyakashipu was eventually brought to book by Narasimha, the reincarnation of Vishnu (although Amnesty International would rightly condemn the lack of a fair trial for Hiranyakashipu).

That’s akin to the situation in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, where Hiranyakashipu… oops, I mean the Vedanta Corporation, is violating the human rights of the people of eastern Orissa.  Like Hiranyakashipu, they have poisoned the water in the region and harmed the health of citizens in the area.

Like Prahalad, the tribal leaders have appealed to a higher power (James Cameron, director of the mega blockbuster movie Avatar) in addition to their government for help in stopping the mining project but so far their pleas have not been successful.

The decision rests with Government of India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests and you can help by taking action to stop this mining project until proper environmental studies have been done.

Let’s all celebrate Holi and ensure that the Prahalads of the world are protected from the Hiranyakashipus of the world.

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.