Vedanta faces third setback in a month over human rights

By staff writers
15 Jul 2010

The controversial transnational corporation Vedanta Resources has suffered its third major blow in a month due to human rights concerns. The Chief Secretary of the Indian state of Odisha (formerly Orissa) has ordered a new investigation into the rights of the Dongria Kondh tribe affected by the company's bauxite mine.

The announcement comes just two weeks after the Indian Minister of Environment and Forests ordered an investigation on the same topic, and ten days after the leading Dutch investment firm PGGM sold its stake in Vedanta over human rights concerns.

A government investigation in March concluded that Vedanta’s mine "may lead to the destruction of the Dongria Kondh [as a people]".

Under Indian law, the Dongria Kondh can claim communal rights over the forest land they have historically used or protected.

Vedanta has been attempting to mine the top of the Dongria’s sacred mountain for several years, but has not received the final clearance it needs to begin.

Last year, the Environment Minister said Vedanta’s mine would not receive clearance until the Dongria’s forest rights had been settled.

But Survival International report that when they visited the Dongria in December, it was clear that many of them were not even aware of their right to claim communal land.

Vedanta Resources is majority-owned by billionaire Anil Agarwal, who will have to address shareholders’ concerns about these delays at the company’s AGM in London on the 28 July.

Survival’s director Stephen Corry said, “How many more investigations will it take for everyone to finally accept that Vedanta’s mine would threaten the future of the Dongria Kondh and cause India to breach its commitments under international law?”

[Ekk/1]

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