Vedanta AGM to face shareholders' anger over human rights

By staff writers
26 Jul 2011

FTSE100 company Vedanta Resources will face vocal protests today (27 July) from Survival International and other groups telling the company to give up on their notorious Niyamgiri mine in Orissa, India.

Vedanta was denied permission to mine in the Niyamgiri Hills, home of the Dongria Kondh tribe who have been vigorously protesting against the mine. Now the issue has returned to India’s Supreme Court.

At today’s AGM, the company will be told by protesters inside and outside the meeting to respect the stance of both the government and the Dongria Kondh and to give up on the Niyamgiri mine.

Actor and Survival supporter Michael Palin, who has visited the Dongria Kondh, said he was "very disappointed" that the decision to stop Vedanta's mine by India's Environment Minister is now being challenged in the courts.

"Vedanta needs, once and for all, to abandon this ill-conceived project and respect the rights of the Dongria Kondh people," insisted Palin.

Several shareholders have divested a total of over US$40 million from Vedanta in protest over the Niyamgiri mine project and other concerns over the company’s human rights and environmental record. They include the Church of England, which withdrew its shares after longstanding campaigns by Anglicans and others angry about its continued support for Vedanta.

Asset manager Aviva Investors has declared that it will not support key resolutions at tomorrow’s AGM due to concerns over the company’s behaviour.

"When shareholders are disinvesting, and expressing serious concerns about company conduct, it's time to reconsider policy," said Stephen Corry, director of Survival International.

He added, "Vedanta should respect the resounding ‘no’ from the Indian government and abandon the Niyamgiri mine: it might go some way to righting its appalling human rights record".

[Ekk/1]

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