Indian government rejection of Vedanta bauxite mine a “landmark victory” for Indigenous rights

Dongria Kondh protesting Vedanta's bauxite mine project

Amnesty International :: 24 August 2010

Amnesty International today described the Indian government’s decision to reject the bauxite mine project in Orissa’s Niyamgiri Hills as a landmark victory for the human rights of Indigenous communities.

India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests today rejected the mine project proposed by a subsidiary of UK-based Vedanta Resources and the state-owned Orissa Mining Corporation, after finding that the project already extensively violates forest and environmental laws and would perpetrate abuses against the Dongria Kondh adivasi and other communities on the Hills.

“The Dongria Kondh and other local communities have been struggling for years for this decision, which is a very welcome one,” said Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director, Madhu Malhotra.

“The companies and the Orissa government should now guarantee that they will not attempt to simply move the project to another site without ensuring adequate safeguards – they must ensure they will respect the human rights of Indigenous and local communities wherever the companies operate.” Continue reading

Vedanta’s Controversial Mine Gets Backing of India’s Prime Minister

June 30, 2010

In a highly unusual move, India’s Prime Minister has intervened directly in the approval process for one of the world’s most controversial mines.

The office of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has written to the Environment and Forests Ministry urging it to clear Vedanta’s proposed Niyamgiri mine in Odisha. The mine cannot go ahead without official clearance from the Ministry.

The mine is likely to have a devastating effect on the Dongria Kondh tribe who live in the area. A Dongria Kondh man told Survival International, ‘Mining only makes profit for the rich. We will become beggars if the company destroys our mountain and our forest so that they can make money.’ The tribe has become known as the ‘real Avatar tribe’ because of the parallels between their plight and that of the Na’vi in James Cameron’s blockbuster. Continue reading