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Tribal women gather to protest and listen to speeches at Bijepur at a rally organised by the Adim Adhikar Surakshya Manch (a group to protect tribal groups) against the Vedanta plant. Stuart Freedman/ ActionAid

Tribal women gather listen to speeches at Bijepur at a protest against the Vedanta plant. (Stuart Freedman/ActionAid)

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Vedanta told to 'change behaviour' by UK Government


12th October, 2009

Mining company unable to provide any evidence as government agency rules they ignored rights of indigenous people

Vedanta Resources has been criticised by the UK Government for failing to properly consult tribal populations about plans for a bauxite mine in a remote part of eastern India.

The British mining company is attempting to break ground on a massive bauxite mine in the eastern Indian state of Orissa.

The operation would destroy a large part of the Niyamgiri Mountain, home to the 8,000-strong indigenous Kondh tribal people.

The indigenous rights group Survival voiced its concern to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which then conducted its own investigation.

Its report, which has been accepted by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, says Vedenta;

  • Failed to put in place an adequate and timely consultation mechanism to engage the indigenous community who would be directly affected by the environmental and health and safety impacts of its plans to construct a bauxite mine in the Niyamgiri Hills in India.
  • Presented no evidence or record of the views of the Dongria Kondh about the construction of the mine having ever been collected or taken into consideration by the company.
  • Failed to consider the impact of construction of the mine on the rights and freedoms of the Dongria Kondh.
  • Failed to provide any evidence to support its position after initially denying allegations made by Survival.
  • Has has no human rights policy or mechanism for assessing the impact of its operations on human rights, and is acting at odds with India's commitments under UN human rights legislation.

‘We’re very pleased that the UK Government has finally taken a stand on this – it’s already one of the most notorious mining projects in the world,' said Survival's director Stephen Corry.

'Vedanta failed even to inform the Dongria Kondh that it planned to turn their sacred mountain into a vast open-pit mine, yet the tribe has the right under international law to give – or withhold – their consent.'

The move comes just months after an Ecologist investigation revealed that a number of UK institutions, including the Church of England and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, indirectly own shares in the company.

Useful links
Survival International
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Full text of OCED report

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