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Archives for : Vedanta Resources

Shameless Vedanta – Faking Happiness – #CSR more LIES #IndependenceDayIndia

 

As I  began my day witha cuppa coffee and opened the Economic Times  today, the smiling FACES  glared at me, thinking it to be cover page story of India at 70, as  I rolled my eyes down  to the text was AGHAAAAST….,….

It said

 

In celeberation of India’s 70th year of independence we are pledging 75% wealth to social good

 

and wait , who is

Vedanta ??

 

Vedanta unlocks India’s vast natural resources to contribute to our nation’s economic strength . We also support government’ s vision with programs to empower women , educate youth and improve children’s health and wellness. All of which is transforming India for even more successful and sustainable future.

 PLEASE READ ABOVE AS –Vedanta to contribute  while sucking blood of tribals 100% 

 

https://soundcloud.com/alistrap/vedanta-anthem-produced-by

Vedanta is a FTSE 250 British mining company controlled and owned by Anil Agarwal and his family through a series of tax havens and holding companies. It has become infamous for its violations of law, pollution and human rights abuses across India and Afrika. Vedanta is controlled and 69.6% owned by Brit Anil Agarwal and his family through a series of tax havens and holding companies. It was launched on the London Stock Exchange in 2003 with the assistance of the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), who continue with their  support for the company.

Are you aware that Vedanta’s activities are destroying the lives of thousands of people in Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Punjab and also in Zambia, South Africa and Australia?

In Odisha, India a nineteen year struggle by indigenous communities, Dalits and farmers led to a historic victory in 2014 when Vedanta was stopped from mining the sacred Niyamgiri hills for bauxite. Vedanta’s attempt to secure the mountain through State Owned OMC was rejected by the Supreme Court again on May 6, 2016. Vedanta Aluminium Ltd had built the 1 mtpa Lanjigarh refinery at the base of the Niyamgiri hills in 2004, and even expanded it six fold, despite having no permission to mine bauxite from the hills above. Vedanta’s launch on the London Stock Exchange in 2003 was based on the impression given to financiers that they had permission to mine Niyamgiri. The  harassment of tribal activists who succeeded in stopping Vedanta’s bauxite mine in a precedent referendum in 2013 is increasing, and key activists have been jailed and tortured this year, accused of being Maoists. Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti (NSS) and the Dongria Kondshave held major blockades of Vedanta’s refinery in reaction demanding an end to harassment and the decomissioning of the refinery.

In Korba, Chhattisgarh, India between 40 and 100 workers died at Vedanta subsidiary BALCO’s aluminium smelter complex when a chimney under construction collapsed on them in September 2009. The subsequent judicial inquiry into the incident found Vedanta guilty of negligence and using sub-standard materials and construction methods. However, Vedanta’s lawyers suppressed the report which was leaked by activists in 2014.

In Goa, India, Vedanta’s iron ore mining subsidiary Sesa Goa (now Vedanta Limited) was the largest company indicted by the Shah Commission in 2012 for illegal mining, including failure to obtain leases or environmental clearance, and exporting 150 million tonnes of iron ore from Goa in 2010/11 while only declaring 76 million, their agreed export allowance.The resumption of iron ore mining by Vedanta subsidiary Sesa Goa has already led to protests by Gowda Adivasis (a tribal group) suffering from air and water pollution, and accusations that the company is already exceeding its quota and continuing illegal mining under the guise of removing waste dumps. After being found guilty of widespread illegal mining Vedanta is already demanding that the resultant cap on mining is lifted.

In Jaipur itself Vedanta is accused by an employee’s union of casualising and de-unionising the labour force at Hindustan Zinc Ltd by reducing permanent workers to only 2,500 of 18,000 workers. The Maton Mines Mazdur Sangh (Maton Mines Workers Union) is also opposing Vedanta for poor working conditions and destruction of crops and houses around their phosphate mines. Meanwhile, on 11th May 2016 Anil Agarwal promoted Sterlite Technologies announced its successful bid to to run a second ‘smart city’ project in Jaipur.

Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper operations in Tuticorin received flak for its disposal of hazardous wastes, impacts on ground water and public health over two decades, besides its disregard for government rules and regulations. The 4 MTPA plant is located next to the ecologically sensitive Gulf of Mannar region on Tamil Nadu’s coast. In 2010, the Madras high court ordered the closure of the copper smelter, on the grounds of excessive pollution, poor mitigation and waste disposal, and for violating directives of the Pollution Control Board (PCB). On March 28, 2013, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board shut down the factory after reports of a gas leak comprising extremely high levels of sulphur dioxide in the air, which led to the death of a 35-year-old migrant factory worker. India’s Supreme Court, however, stayed the high court’s decision to shut down the plant. It instead imposed a penalty of Rs 100 crore on the company as a deterrent and directed the PCB to impose stricter mitigation measures. Vedanta informed the council that it was complying with all these new directives. However, the council still outlined a host of unaddressed issues – from overstating the land available for pollution control measures to failing to dispose of large quantities of gypsum still contained in its waste pond (corroborated by Google Earth Images from 2016 and interviews with local communities). It found that BALCO had yet to follow up on its own 2008 epidemiological health study, which found that people around the factory site were suffering from skin and respiratory disorders.

In Karnataka the Bellary region became ‘a republic of lawlessness’ with clearances for 82 million tonnes of iron ore per year issued and controlled largely by mining barons and State government ministers the Reddy brothers, Thousands lost their farmland and homes to mines and nothing could be grown in the dusty and polluted fields. When mining was eventually banned thousands of miners returned to their former livelihoods in farming. Interestingly revenue for the State even increased after the ban, showing the degree of looting taking place.

 

In Zambia, Vedanta has appealed against a precedent May 2016 judgment allowing thousands of farmers suffering eleven years of pollution by Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) to have their case against the company heard in the UKDuring the London appeal hearing they claimed no connection between the parent and subsidiary, stating that corporate governance reports were just for show to comply with London listing rules. Meanwhile the pollution goes on in Zambia, where Vedanta have also been found guilty of widespread transfer mispricing and tax evasion according to a recent UNCTAD report. KCM have never published their annual accounts.

Vedanta has been attempting to create favourable public opinion by sponsoring International Film Festival of India (IFFI), the Our Girls Our Pride gender project and even the oxymoronic Mining Happiness campaign, using celebrities and media houses to hush up its liabilities. But each of these attempts has been exposed by grassroots groups and people’s movements pointing out Vedanta’s corporate crimes using social media and letter writing.

http://www.kractivist.org/open-letter-to-shyam-benegal-on-vedantas-creating-happiness/

 

http://www.kractivist.org/benegal-pulls-out-of-jury-on-vedanta-promoted-film-competition/

http://www.kractivist.org/shyam-benegal-and-gul-panag-still-figure-as-judges-in-vedantas-creating-happiness-competition/

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Vedanta boss Anil Agarwal brags how he bought Zambia’s largest copper mine


This shocking video which we released yesterday shows Vedanta boss Anil Agarwal bragging to an audience of Jain businessmen in Bangalore this March about how he bought Zambia’s largest copper mine for pittance, and milks it of $500 million each year (while he is also claiming in Zambia that he is making a loss and cannot pay more tax or royalty, or settle pollution compensation.. and must fire workers etc). Press release below. The news has hit Zambian newspapers already.

This ‘horses mouth’ account says so much about the arrogant and disdainful attitude of corporations like Vedanta, and is a lesson for any community facing a similar threat.

Please send this far and wide and show the real face of greed behind the glossy CSR persona of Vedanta and other corporates.

Meanwhile, Vedanta has been showing its true face in Ireland too.. where three managers at the Lisheen zinc and lead mine have left the firm, and been granted six months sick pay for bullying, harassment and intimidation by Vedanta execs. One email from an exec even stated “are you Irish or Jihadi?” (see attached article).

The good news is that Vedanta continues to slump, as the Sunday Times rich list reports a half a billion pound loss to Agarwal’s wealth in the last few months, describing him as a metal-to-oils tycoon, which demonstrates his shift towards the oil industry as his metals industry faces increasing resistance from local activism and court hold ups.

Do read the Foil Vedanta facebook to keep up to date with developments.
Thanks to all those who ‘liked’ it. We are now at 1133 likes.

Best to all,

Miriam x

VEDANTA BOSS CLAIMS $500 MILLION PROFIT PER YEAR AT KCM!

 

 

  • Video of Anil Agarwal speaking in March 2014 reveals how he bought KCM for just $25 million.

  • Agarwal claims KCM is giving him $500 million every year in profit, plus an extra $1 billion.

  • Meanwhile Vedanta have continued to claim that they are making a loss, or a minimal profit at KCM.

A video(1), released by activists from Foil Vedanta(2) today, shows Vedanta boss, and 69% owner, Anil Agarwal, telling a large audience how he bought Konkola Copper Mines for just $25 million, rather than the $400 million asking price, and receiving loud cheers when he states that the company brings in $500 million in profit each year. Foil Vedanta had previously released figures from Vedanta’s annual reports showing that the company made $362 million in 2013(3), but Vedanta CEO Tom Albanese(4) had disputed this during his visits to Zambia in February, repeating the previous claim that KCM was making a very low profit or a loss due to high operational costs and taxes.(5)

In the video, Agarwal, speaking to the Jain International Trade Organisation(6) in Bangalore, India, March 22 – 23 this year, states about KCM:

Its been 9 years [since we’ve owned the company], and since then every year it is giving us a minimum of 500 million dollar, plus 1 billion dollar, every year it has been continuously giving back.”

Anil Agarwal also explains in detail how he came to buy ‘the largest copper mine in Africa’ at Konkola, describing how he took a chance by offering only $25 million rather than the $400 million asking price. He describes his surprise at receiving a VIP welcome in the Zambian parliament, and ridicules the then Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa for claiming that Vedanta would improve the lives of Zambians, saying:

He told the entire parliament that what great people we are, and our empire, and that they will make our lives gorgeous. And they will make schools, make hospitals and blah blah …”

A few weeks ago a protest at the Zambian High Commission in London called for Vedanta and the Zambian government to release KCM’s annual reports, containing the official figures on profits and tax payment, which are currently kept secret.

They also suggested that Vedanta should be forced to pay the fine of $2 million served by Zambian courts in 2011 as compensation to 2000 claimants poisoned by major pollution of the river Kafue in 2006, and stop ongoing spills affecting Chingola residents. (7)

In addition they joined the calls of KCM employees and former employees in Zambia, who are demanding that retrenched workers are properly compensated for taking redundancy, and existing contract labourers are unionised.(8)

Meanwhile Vedanta’s Lisheen mine in Ireland, which they bought from Anglo American in 2011, is facing trouble, as a High Court judgement has ruled that three senior managers should be paid 6 months sick pay after leaving the company due to ‘bullying, harassment and intimidation since Vedanta took control’. Local councillors, as well as the aggrieved managers, are also questioning Vedanta’s decision not to wind the mine down by 2015, as they had originally planned.(9)

 

Ends.

 

Notes to editors:

 

Contact: Miriam Rose: [email protected] for more information or statements.

www.foilvedanta.org

 

 

Notes to Editors:

 

 

  1. Please see the (3.54 min) video in Hindi with subtitles in English here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98yKosnwb-Y&feature=youtu.be You may need to click on the caption icon in the menu bar beneath the video to see the translation. The full transcript is attached to this release. This is an excerpt from the full video of the conference originally posted here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dj3fXRlIo-8&feature=youtu.be

 

  1. Foil Vedanta are a London based international solidarity group focusing on the activities of British mining company Vedanta. We link up global communities affected by Vedanta, and hold them to account in London. We are currently aiming to make the case for Vedanta to be de-listed from the London Stock Exchange for their human rights and corporate governance abuses.

 

  1. The full report Copper Colonialism: British miner Vedanta KCM and the copper loot of Zambia can be found atwww.foilvedanta.org. (http://www.foilvedanta.org/articles/copper-colonialism-report-shakes-zambia/ ) The report, released in January 2014 has caused shock waves in Zambia and raised the debate on the way copper mining companies operate in Zambia.

 

  1. For more information on Tom Albanese’s background as Rio Tinto CEO, including his oversight of de-unionising policies, militarisation of mines, and major pollution, please see the profile entitled “Tom Albanese – Blood on your hands” at http://www.foilvedanta.org/news/tom-albanese-blood-on-your-hands/

 

  1. 7th February, Daily Mail Zambia article:

 

Mr Albanese said the profit and loss accounts of KCM are transparent. He said audit reports which are thoroughly scrutinised are made available within the country and outside.

On behalf of the shareholders and subsidiaries of Vedanta, the reports are prepared according to Zambia, United Kingdom and United States (US) financial regulations,” Mr Albanese said. He said despite KCM making profit, most of it is lost to taxes and operational costs.

See http://www.foilvedanta.org/articles/foil-vedanta-responds-to-tom-albanese-on-vedanta-in-zambia/

 

  1. According to their website: ‘The Jain International Trade Organization (JITO) is a worldwide body of Jain businessmen, industrialists, knowledge workers and professionals in various fields reflecting their glory of ethical business practices.’

 

  1. In 2006 KCM spilled effluent into the Mushishima stream, and the Kafue river, raising chemical concentrations in the river Kafue to 10 x acceptable levels of copper, 770 x manganese and 100 x cobalt. Thousands were poisoned, and a litigation on behalf of 2000 Chingola residents by private lawyers resulted in a landmark $2 million fine being delivered by judges in 2011 to be paid to the claimants1. However, Vedanta challenged the ruling and the case is yet to be re-heard while the fine remains unpaid. Affected residents are now experiencing birth deformities and severe health problems, while the Mushishima stream remains regularly contaminated by the KCM mine, leaving communities without clean water and suffering ongoing health problems. (See p.21 of report)

 

(8) The Former KCM Miners Association is a union of workers retrenched from KCM since 2000. They are 752 in total, and 235 of them were retrenched during Anglo American’s ownership of KCM (2000 – 2004). None have received the full severance pay they were entitled to, while those fired under Anglo have received nothing at all. The group have been campaigning on this issue for many years.

 

(9) See: Samantha McCaughren, 23rd February 2014 ‘Stressed Lisheen bosses given paid leave in court ruling’, The Sunday Times.

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Zambia Says Vedanta Unit Aims to Move $1.5 Billion Liability

By Matthew Hill  Feb 14, 2014 8:20 AM PT

Vedanta Resources Plc (VED)’s Konkola Copper Mines Plc unit has removed “a lot of money” from Zambia and wants the government to assume its liabilities that exceed $1.5 billion, said the nation’s Vice President Guy Scott.

KCM, as the company is known, is hiding information from the government and failing to pay creditors and service bank loans, Scott told lawmakers today in Lusaka, the capital. KCM also owes money to other mining companies for copper concentrate, he said. Joy Sata, a spokeswoman for KCM, declined to comment when contacted by phone and asked for questions to be e-mailed. She didn’t immediately respond to the e-mail.

“This is a matter of national importance,” said Scott. “It’s a matter concerned with billions and billions of dollars, tens of billions of kwacha, that we stand to lose if we don’t stand together and show that we won’t be taken for a ride.”

Zambia revoked the work permit of KCM Chief Executive Officer Kishore Kumar in November after he announced that the company planned to cut 1,529 jobs to reduce costs. KCM, which operates the deepest mine in Africa’s biggest copper producer, later apologized to Zambian President Michael Sata, who said the government would cancel the company’s license if it fired any workers.

“It seems as if they don’t mind heading to a situation where bankruptcy is entailed,” Scott said today in comments about KCM. “They would like their liabilities that they have deliberately built up to be taken on by the government.”

Tax Issues

An external spokeswoman for Vedanta declined to comment by phone from London, asking not to be named in line with company policy.

Zambia has said mining companies are avoiding paying tax, while KCM is suing the country’s revenue authority over a 3.2 billion-kwacha ($560 million) tax charge relating to export of copper cathodes.

Zambia holds a 20.6 percent stake in KCM through state-owned mining company ZCCM Investment Holdings, while Vedanta owns the remaining 79.4 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Hill in Lusaka at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at [email protected]

Read mor ehere — http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-14/zambia-says-vedanta-unit-seeking-to-shift-liabilities-to-state.html

 

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Indian corporates, with a combined cumulative debt of over $100 billion #WTFnews

No free lunches
R. SRINIVASAN , The Hindu, 1-1-2014

 

The RBI’s Financial Stability Report is formal acknowledgement of a deep-rooted problem: India Inc’s profligacy.

 

What does this list stand for? Reliance ADA Group, Vedanta Resources, Essar Group, Adani Group, Jaypee Group, JSW Group, GMR Group, Lanco Group, Videocon Group and GVK Group.

 

A list of India’s biggest, most successful, corporates? Going by the size of their balance-sheets, their market share in the sectors they operate in, the value of their stock in the markets, the kind of access they enjoy in the corridors of power and the clout they wield with the system, this would be a popular guess. This would also be a correct conclusion to reach on all the above factors.

 

But there is another, less talked about characteristic these companies share — they are also among the most indebted of Indian corporates, with a combined cumulative debt of Rs 6,31,024.70 crore — over $100 billion, according to a widely discussed research report by Credit Suisse.
Redlining on debt

 

The report offers some devastating insights into the kind of problems these companies — India’s biggest and supposedly brightest — face as a result of reckless borrowing.

 

“Debt levels at these groups have risen by 15 per cent year-on-year, even as profitability continues to be under pressure.

 

The largest increases have been at groups such as GVK, Lanco and ADA where the gross debt levels are up 24 per cent Y-o-Y. For most of these corporate groups, the debt increase even outpaced capex (capital expenditure)”, the report pointed out.

 

The Credit Suisse report also brought out some worrying developments. Almost half (23 of 50) of the top 50 companies, by size of their debt, couldn’t pay interest on their loans in seven or more quarters in the past two years. Thirty eight companies reported net losses. And with a handful of exceptions, their current earnings were not enough to meet even interest repayments, leave alone repay the capital. The result has been a dramatic surge in ‘restructuring’ of bad debts by banks, desperate to prevent their star assets from being declared as bad loans.

 

In the past two years alone, Indian banks — mostly government-owned banks, but also the large private sector banks and multinational banks — have ‘restructured’ over Rs 2 lakh crore of loans, which would have otherwise gone into default category.

 

While agriculture loans, loans to small and medium enterprises and politically directed loan waivers have been largely blamed for the troubles the banks are facing, the reality is different.

 

More than 70 per cent of the restructured loans are accounted for by loans to the private sector. And a dominant share of this is accounted for by the biggest players in the business.
Stimulus to borrow

 

There is more bad news. With investments falling, and the domestic banking system unable to lend further — because a lot of its money is already locked up in previous bad loans — the demand for ‘stimulus’ packages grew shriller from India Inc.

 

An obliging government promptly provided this stimulus by way of allowing corporates to borrow yet more money abroad.

 

Estimates put the share of foreign currency denominated corporate debt at over $225 billion — and more than half of this is unhedged, which means that a depreciating rupee has already added around 12-15 per cent to this when the time comes for repayment.

 

This, the borrowers are clearly not in a position to do. This would mean that Indian lenders will have to take a haircut of monumental proportions, if the situation is to be prevented from deteriorating into the kind of systemic collapse one saw in some of the smaller Western nations after the 2008 meltdown.

 

The Government will eventually have to foot the bill for this, by way of further capital infusion into the weakened balance-sheets of the banks it owns. Between 2010-11 and 2013-14 (which still has three months to go), the UPA-II regime has forked out Rs 58,643 crore by way of additional capital infusion into state-owned banks. Add the special funds released during the crisis in 2009-10 and the total tops Rs 60,000 crore.

 

This is an enormous amount of money, money which could — and should — have been spent on creating tangible infrastructure, productive assets and in improving the quality of life of ordinary citizens. Instead, it is likely to vanish down the black hole of un-repayable corporate debt. That is because every rupee put into a bank’s capital base translates into Rs 10 of additional debt. Debt, which the numbers clearly show, the corporate sector is unlikely to pay back, unless lenders take more punishment.
Stressed out

 

This is what has set the alarm bells ringing at the Reserve Bank of India, which has to deal with the mess in the case of a banking system collapse. In its Financial Stability Report released this week, it pointed out the reasons to worry.

 

For starters, the ‘stressed advances’ — bad loans to you and me — have shot up to 10.2 per cent of total loans as of September this year, up from the already high 9.2 per cent at the start of the financial year.

 

It also says the largest contribution to stressed advances come from public sector banks and that ‘medium and large’ industries contributed more towards this. Just five sectors — steel, textiles, aviation, mining and infrastructure — accounted for more than half the stressed assets of the banking system.

 

This concentration — and the widespread exposure across banks to various troubled borrowers, given exposure norms (a bank’s exposure to a single borrower can go up to 25 per cent of the bank’s total capital, while its group exposure limit can go up to 55 per cent of the bank’s total capital) — means that the collapse of even one large player could have a devastating impact on the system.

 

According to scenario analysis done by the RBI, the failure of a single large corporate group can end up wiping out half the capital of the entire banking system, when 60 per cent of the money is not recoverable.

 

The figure is higher if the loss default ratio is higher. If you think this scenario is unlikely, think Kingfisher or Deccan Chronicle — and then take a close look at the balance-sheets of India’s biggest corporates.

 

2013 was a great year for India Inc. A combination of slowing economic growth and a floundering and politically beleaguered government desperate to salvage its second stint in power meant that India Inc could occupy the moral high ground, lambasting the government for its ‘governance deficit’ and ‘policy logjam’, while not so discreetly bullying the administration — and by extension, government-owned banks — into extending yet more concessions and ever more loans without a murmur.

 

India Inc has been strident in its criticism of the Government’s ‘fiscal profligacy’ and panned the government’s social sector hand-outs as being counter-productive.

 

Turns out it is far more profligate than the government is — and gets far more dole than the poor ever did.

Read more here– http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/no-free-lunches/article5526838.ece

 

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#India – Lawyer Ritwick Dutta kicking Vedanta ,Posco, Jindal and many

By Megha Mandavia, ET Bureau | 23 Dec, 2013,
Environment lawyer Ritwick Dutta has blocked big projects like bauxite mining by Vedanta Resources and Posco’s steel project in Odisha.
MUMBAI: For India Inc, 39-year-old environment lawyer Ritwick Dutta is a perennial nuisance, someone who has been obstructing, slowing and litigating against the industrialisation of the country. But for tree huggers, he’s Captain Planet trying to save the earth from mindless destruction.Dutta, a Supreme Court lawyer for more than a decade, has blocked big projects like bauxite mining by Vedanta Resources and Posco‘s steel project in Odisha. He fought 350 cases against behemoths lik Posco, Vedanta, Jindal SteelBSE 5.67 %, and government-backed NTPCBSE 0.99 % in the past 10 years, making him unpopular with Corporate India.
A substantive amount of our industrialism is happening at the cost of the livelihoods of people,” says Dutta. “The locals are saying that they’ll get jobs as watchmen, guards, but top jobs will go to engineers from outside. It is a real issue of livelihood loss.”

He fought his first case at the age of 28 against Vedanta, representing the Dongria Kondh tribals of Niyamgiri, who wanted to stop the London-listed giant from mining bauxite. Dutta fought the case all the way to the Supreme Court, which then asked Vedanta to get approval from the tribals to start mining.

The tribals rejected the request, and the hills remain untouched. “Virtually 330 acres of forest land is diverted every day in India, according to the ministry of environment,” says Dutt ..

The cases that come for legal challenge are less than 1% of the approved (projects).” Dutta, along with another environment lawyer Rahul Choudhary, founded the Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE) in 2005.Local communities, farmers, horticulturists, who fear loss of business and sustenance, make up 90% of their clients. Dutta fights about 30-40% cases for free while for the rest he gets paid sometimes in cash, sometimes in vegetables, fruits and hand-woven clothes.

He represented horticulturists in Himachal Pradesh against Lafarge‘s lime mining project in 2011 and mango farmers in Ratnagiri against JSW’s thermal power plant.Dutta, however, says he has lost more lawsuits than he has won. Lafarge and Vedanta were wins, and the win rate is getting better.”Between 2005 and 2009, we succeeded in one or two cases. It was problematic to get evidence. But the coming of Right to Information Act helped a lot,” says Dutta. We found, using Right to Information, the former power secretary, P Abraham, chairing the Expert Appraisal Committee for dams in northeast was himself sitting on the board of the company whose project he approved.”

Today, 65-70% of lawsuits result in at least some outcome in terms of more scrutiny through public hearings or having to re-apply for environment clearance, says Dutta. Even corporate lawyers, who have fought against him, call him honest, focussed and driven.

He has raised important issues. No one earlier was bringing up these issues so consistently,” says Prashanto Chandra Sen, who represented a leading mining firm against Dutta. However, there is a concern about his overwhelming activism. “He is a good lawyer as far as environment is concerned. He is a mix of activism and law.
He should see both sides of the issue,” said Supreme Court lawyer ADN Rao, who too has fought against Dutta. Dutta, a graduate in sociology and law, never intended to become an environment lawyer. His interest lay in environment activism and conservation.But he realised that there were few full-time environment lawyers ready to fight on behalf of communities. “Frankly I don’t think I have the capacity to study anything else which is non-environmental.would have turned into a very fluff corporate lawyer. It is not a sacrifice,” says Dutta.

 

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#India – Faking Happiness is forced to Present the ‘ VEDANTA ANTHEM” #HipHop #mustshare

Kamayani for FAKING HAPPINESS CAMPAIGN

 

 

An Indo-German collaboration with production by the talented DJ BC from Germany and the lyrics and vocals by A-List from India. A List is a raptivist and a member of Faking Happiness campaign. This track is a quick freestyle in response to Vedanta trying to salvage it’s reputation by sponsoring , NDTV‘S ”  Our Girls Our Pride ” , a  PR Exercise and a desperate attempt to salvage themselevs after they were kicked out  by the Gramsabhas and after attempting to exploit the Dongria Kondh  tribal community in Odhisa for the Niyamgiri Hills.

 

Pic- courtesy Down to Earth

It has been learnt that Mining Giant Vedanta, is shitting  in their pants after  their exposure by  Faking Happiness: Activists Strike Back at Vedanta Ad Campaign, which was such a huge set back. Recently , after they were Kicked out in a Match of 12-0, by the Dongria Kondh ,  tribal of Odisha, they have once again planned a Corporate social responsibility ( CSR)  campaign, called ‘Our Girls our pride and once again, we are back with a   BANG.

 

Our two petitions  to NDTV and Priyanka Chopra haS crossed the 2500 mark, do sign if you have not so far, if you have not  ?

NDTV WITHDRAW VEDANTA

and

PRIYANKA CHOPRA WITHDRAW AS AMABASSADOR

 

Faking Happiness also  sent birthday wishes wishes Happy Birthday Dr Prannoy Roy – Withdraw Vedanta #ourgirlsourpride

So, Now Vedanta, CSR initiative is in a soup , as many  Craetive Faces with Political Voices, join Faking Happiness Anti Vedanta Campaign , and the voices are increasing every day

Hence, what they did ?

 They kidnapped, our very own , Ashwini Mishra aka A-list while he was  recording at his studio, and  coerced him to  to sing the ‘ VEDANTA ANTHEM “, they wanted to tell world that…… they will not take their defeat down and here are the lyrics—-

We are Vedanta, everywhere that we go,
Faking Happiness, you know how we roll,
We are Vedanta, everywhere that we go,
Faking Happiness, you know how we roll,
That’s right, this is the Vedanta anthem,
All the corporate greedy people chant them,
That’s right, this the Vedanta anthem,
All the corporate greedy people anthem,
That’s right, let’s go ahead and do this,
We thought we’d put our corporate greed to some music,
And tell you exactly where we come from,
Come on man, this is not a protest, this not a dumb song,
You see we kidnapped A-List, he’s in the back,
So Vedanta rep could come here and rap,
And tell you the truth,
That is the youth,
That needs to understand this is so much more than booth,
SO,
Listen to this, let the world know,
Matter of fact, for the girls though,
Let’s really talk about ‘coz the world dies,
When we build a mine, but we do the girl child,
We do a program for them on NDTV,
And now look, all these emcees be free,
But they never really talk about what we do,
“Coz corporate sponsorship taken, BOOM!
Now what you gonna do, what you gonna say,
‘Coz we do this like every single day,
Exploiting poor people like it is fun,
Actually it is when that shit has done

This is Vedanta and this is our anthem,
All the corporate greedy people chant them,
This is Vedanta and this is our anthem,
All the corporate greedy people chant them

That’s right, ain’t this a crazy world,
We are evil but we got Desi Girl,
That’s right, we got Priyanka Chopra to endorse us,
Now we got all kinds of endorsements,
All sorts of people saying that it’s cool,
What they did in the past, but they sent kids to school,
But hear the truth, we didn’t send anyone though,
That’s right, and that’s how we get through the flow,
That’s right, yo, this is such a crappy fest,
We make an art form out of  faking happiness,
And that’s us, that’s the Vedanta anthem,
All the corporate greedy people chant them,
And yo, you know Niyamgiri’s ill,
And we will come back, we will take Niyamgiri Hill,
And all the tribal people who had opposed us,
Come on man, you had proposed us
To be gone, but we will be back,
And when we come, we will come, we will be wrath,
We will buy over the police and the army,
That’s right, I’m rich, tell me who’ll harm me,

Vedanta Signing Out.


SO WHATS THE BACKGROUND OF VEDANTA AND WHY YOU SHOULD BE BOTHERED ?

BACKGROUND

Niyamgiri hills, home to 8,000-odd Dongria Kondhs, tribal group, a few hundred Kutia Kondhs and other forest-dwellers who eke out a living cultivating pulses, paddy and collecting naturally-grown horticultural crops, is considered sacred by the indigenous tribes and others as it is the abode of Niyamraja – their presiding deity.

Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had rejected (Stage-II /final approval) Forest Clearance on 24.8.2010 for the Bauxite mining on the basis of issues outlined by the Forest Advisory Committee which stated that ‘the Primitive Tribal Groups were not consulted in the process of seeking project clearance and also noticed the violation of the provisions of Forest Rights Act, the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, Environmental Protection Act, 1986 and also the impact on ecological and biodiversity values of the Niyamgiri hills upon which the Dongaria Kondh and Kutia Kondh depend’ and the detailed report of Naresh Sexana Committee specially appointed to look into the issue. This MoEF Order was challenged in a petition at the Supreme Court of India by Orissa Mining Corporation.

The Supreme Court of India had decided on 18 April 2013 that if Bauxite Mining Project of Vedanta affects the religious right of Schedule Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers like Dongaria Kondh, Kutia Kandha and others over the Niyamgiri hills in Odisha ‘right has to be preserved and protected’. The Court has left it to the Gram Sabhas to decide if such right is affected by the proposed mine.cts.

In India  first time an environmental referendum was conducted on a directive by the Supreme Court to find out whether mining in Niyamgiri will tantamount to an infringement of the religious, cultural, community and individual rights of local forest-dwellers. During July-August this year, 12 gram sabhas, selected by the Odisha government for the referendum on mining in Niyamgiri hills, had rejected the proposal. The tribal villages, located on the hill slopes, are part of Rayagada and Kalahandi districts.

image

1.   The first  village council  was held at Serakpadi village of Raygada district.  In the sabha 36 out of 38 voters in the first Palli Sabha in Niyamgiri have voted against mining in Niyamgiri.

2.T he second, three hour long ,  village council meeting at Kesarpadi in Rayagada district-, in which -Thirty-three of 36 eligible voters , including all 23 women, voted against bauxite mining……At the three-hour-long sabha, 33 of 36 adult voters from Kesarpadi  unanimously adopted a resolution as per the Forest Rights Act, conveying their opposition to mining in the Niyamgiri hills.

3  The third village council meeting was held in a non -tribal forest hamlet of Tadijhola, which is imporant note also  unanimously rejected proposed bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri hills t.Nineteen of the 22 voters in the village were present  including eighty-seven year old Sugri Gouda. Hard of hearing and barely able to stand on her own, she insisted on signing the resolution before leaving the meeting venue. Three bare words she uttered drew a cheer from those present: “Niyamgiri dibu nai” (won’t give up Niyamgiri). Gauda was the also most sought after by media, with a slew of video cameras following her fragile steps as a family member walked her home.

4.  The villagers of Kunakeda, a Dongaria Kondh village in Kalahandi district, today unanimously rejected the proposal for mining in Niyamgir..All 21 out of 22 voters, who attended the meeting, voiced their opposition to Vedanta .

5  The 5th village coucil meeting w s held at Palberi, where .Fifteen of the 16 adult voters from the forest village were in attendance. and voted out vedanta.

 

6 The sixth Pali sabha , Batudi rejected settlement of community forest claims in Niyamgiri ,  31 among 40 voters from the hamlet in attendance, also rejected a joint verification report to settle community and religious rights to the forests granted under the Forest Rights Act of 2006.

7  The seventh village council , Phuldumer – again voted unanimously to reject Vedanta’s mine.—49 of the 65 listed voters were present to voice their opinion, in the meeting.

8  Ijurupa  village council meeting was a CLASSIC ,  where there is just a famiily, and the  four  members of te family nailed down a 72 MT mining proposalvillage in Kalahandi district, Odisha

9   At Lamba ninth pallisabha ,Braving intermittent rain, the 38 voters in the remote village, ousted Vedanta

10.The largest village council fo 12 villages , Lakhpadar village under Kalyansinghpur of Rayagada district located on the slopes of Niyamgiri, the 97 Dongaria Kondhs present in the pallisabha unanimously rejected the proposal to mine the hills for bauxite.

11. Khambasi village in Rayagada district , was the  the eleventh palli sabha , which  also unanimously opposed Vedanta

12-   On August 19th In Jerapa, 16 out of 26 voters, including 10 women, gathered at the final Palli Sabha on Niyamgiri. Under heavy police presence, and in heavy rain, they repeated the statements given in previous meetings – that they opposed the mine and would not leave the mountain no matter what. The twelve voters said they were ready to face bullets to prevent the digging of their sacred mountain.

On August 19th, NDTV and VEDANTA LAUNCHED the ‘ our girls our pride’ campaign. Coincidence ?

 

While our friends at  FOIL VEDANTA protested on the streets of london , On August 1st at the AGM  of Vedanta , When asked about Lanjigarh refinery and the scandal that is the attempted Niyamgiri mine, Anil Aggarwal ,  responded with a dreamy speech about believing that Niyamgiri was meant for Vedanta. he talked about hearing about Kalahandi as a child – a ‘black spot’ on India, and its ‘poorest poorest place’, and how he’d always wanted to do something about it. He said:

“We took courage to go there, no road even or bridge, it was all isolated, we created infrastructure, 7000 got work, not a blade of grass was moved in Niyamgiri .”

DOWNLOAD FULL PROCEEDINGS HERE

 

JOIN US – FAKING HAPPINESS

 

 

 

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क्या प्रियंका चोपड़ा आदिवासियों बेटियों की गुनहगार है ? #NDTV #Priyankachopra #Vedanta

priyankahindi

प्रियंका चोपरा  विश्व का एक बड़ा तपका आप से माँग करता है की आप NDTV-वेदांता “our girls our pride”  ” हमारी लड़किया हमारा गौरव ” मे राजदूत के रूप से  काम  कर रही है , आप को इस पार्ट्नरशिप से अलग हो जाना चाहिए ! इस कार्यक्रम के साथ वेदांता का नाम जुड़ा है ! वेदांता  मानवाधिकार , पर्यावरण , आंदोलनकारियों की हत्या एवं भ्रष्टाचार जैसे संगीन आरोपो से लिप्त है !

वेदांता “खुशी” एक सोशियल मीडीया जन संपर्क कार्यक्रम है ! असल मे बच्चो को रोटी कपड़े और शिक्षा के नाम पर वेदांता अपने काले कर्मो पर परदा डाल रही है ! अपनी काली कमाई से बड़े बड़े आयोजन कर समाज मे अच्छी छवि के लोगो को इन आयोजनो मे बुला कर ,  बच्चो को रोटी कपड़े बाँटने के नाम पर वेदांता सिर्फ़ अपना काला चेहरा ढँक रही है ! आपको और NDTV  को इसी चाल के तहत वेदांता ने फसाया है !

अम्नेस्टी इंटेनाटिओनल की रिपोर्ट के मुताबिक ओरिसा मे डोंगरिया कॉंड समुदाय का मानना है की वेदांता प्रॉजेक्ट के कारण उनका समुदाय विलोपन की कगार पर आ जाएगा दूसरी ओर वमसाधारा नदी मे वेदांता अलमुनिूम रेफीनिरी के वेस्ट मॅनेज्मेंट प्लांट के फेल हो जाने से , सारा ज़हरीला लाल कीचड़ नदी मे बह आया है , सारी नही दूषित हो गई ! आस पास के कई समुदाय और प्रांत उस पानी को पीते थे , उसी पानी से जाने कितने पंछी , जानवर और पानी मे रहने वाले जीव अपना जीवन यापन करते थे ! कुछ नही रहा , कोई कदम नही !

वेदांता फेकिंग हॅपीनेस सोशियल मीडीया पर चलने वाला एक ऐसा कार्यक्रम है , जिसने वेदांता “खुशी” की पोल खोल दी है ! वेदांता का असल चेहरा समाज के सामने प्रस्तुत कर रहा यह कार्यक्रम , वेदांता के खिलाफ आदिवासीओं की आवाज़ बन कर उभरा है ! आज पूरे विश्व से हज़ारो लोग वेदांता फेकिंग हॅपीनेस से जुड़े हुए है !

सुप्रीम कोर्ट के आदेश पर जब नियँगिरि मे आदिवासी वेदांता के खिलाफ एक जुट हो रहे थे  उन्ही दिनो वेदांता ने NDTV  के साथ जुड़ “हमारी लड़किया हमारा गौरव” लॉंच किया ! सारे विश्व मे हो रही अपनी बदनामी से मूह छुपाने के लिए वेदांता ने यह चाल चली ! वेदांता फेकिंग हॅपीनेस ने  NDTV  एवम् प्रियंका चोपरा के नाम ऑनलाइन पीटीशॅन लिखी के वो अपना नाम ” हमारी लड़किया हमारा गौरव ” से वापिस ले लें ! इस पीटीशॅन को पूरे विश्व भर मे सराहा जा रहा है और वेदांता की काली करतूतो के खिलाफ हज़ारो लोग रोज़ जुड़ रहे है !

PRIYANKA CHOPRA WITHDRAW AS AMABASSADOR FROM OUR GIRLS OUR PRIDE CAMPAIGN

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/Priyanka_Chopra_WITHDRAW_from_Our_Girls_Our_Pride_Campaign_NDTV_Vedanta_CSR/

NDTV WTHDARW VEDANTA AS A PARTNER IN OUR GIRLS OUR PRIDE CAMPAIGN

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/NDTV_Withdraw_Vedanta_as_a_Partner_in_Our_Girls_Our_Pride_Campaign/

 

नियँगिरीर के बुंदेल गाव से आंदोलन की शूरवात हुई , कई बार कई आंदोलन दबा दिए गये ! कई आंदोलनकारी मौत की नींद सो गये ! कई ऐसे आदिवासी समुदाय हैं , की अगर उनको यहाँ से हटाया गया तो , दुनिया के मानचित्र से उनका नाम इतिहास हो जाए गा ! भौतिकटावादी, युग मे जंगल की खूब कीमत लगाई है हम ने , इंसानो की कीमत भूल कर …

वेदांता भारत ही नही पर भारत के बाहर भी कई घूसखोरी के आरोपो से घिरा पाया गया , और जहाँ आरोप साबित हुए , पकड़ा भी गया ! भारत मे आदिवासियों की ज़मीन हथियाने मे वेदांता ने पी एच डी प्राप्त की , सीसा गोआ मे कई बार वेदांता पर भू माफिया के साथ मिल कर अवैध खनन के आरोप लगे ! कर्नाटक मे भी यही गाथा दोहराई गई !

वेदांता के हर प्रॉजेक्ट मे मानवाधिकार की बलि चड़ी ! जिन परिवारों को वेदांता ने लूटा , ज़मीने छीनी , जिन मजदूरो का  मानवाधिकार हनन हुआ , उनको या उनके बच्‍चों को कोन सी ” खुशी” देगी  वेदांता ?

आदिवासीओं के खून मे लिप्त वेदांता आप के नाम के पीछे अपनी काली करतूतों को छुपाने का घिनोना प्रयास कर रही है !

द्वारा,
राहुल देवेशवर

वेदांता फेकिंग हॅपीनेस, कैंपेन

https://www.facebook.com/groups/fakinghappiness/

 

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Vedanta Talks Of “Pride” Post Shame, Faking Happiness #CSR #Vedanta #NDTV #Priyankachopra #mustread

By Prerna Bakshi

 

On the 19 of August, NDTV and their partner group Vedanta announced the launch of their ‘Our girls Our pride’ campaign with Priyanka Chopra as the campaign ambassador. This happened on a day when Vedanta suffered a huge blow to its mining operations in Odisha. The launch of this initiative comes at a time when the whole world is witnessing the great triumph of the Indigenous and Tribal communities of Odisha, who by rejecting Vedanta’s bauxite mining operations have set an unprecedented example for the rights and sovereignty of all Indigenous peoples around the world. This victory is not just of the Dongaria Kond and of other surrounding communities of Niyamgiri, but a victory of all Indigenous peoples around the world and their right to self-determination.

The operations of Vedanta, have been consistently called into question by many communities, environmentalists and human rights activists. By launching this campaign along with NDTV, Vedanta is attempting to do what could only be described as damage control in the guise of ‘corporate social responsibility’. Vedanta recently suffered a unanimous defeat by all the 12 gram sabhas (village council meetings) which took part in this ground breaking decision. Now the mining company appears to be using this campaign for PR purposes, for ‘brand recognition and awareness’. By using this opportunity as a means to improve its damaged reputation, Vedanta intends to create a positive image of its company to further its vested interests.

This campaign claims to bring issues of girls’ education, health, nutrition, foeticide and infanticide into light. It is ironic to say the least that the same Vedanta which is claiming to spread awareness about issues related to girl child would have otherwise displaced or pushed into poverty many of these girls and their families or exploited their labour in exchange for cheap wages in its mining operations.

Vedanta’s co-partner, NDTV, a major broadcasting television network, by partnering with such a company, globally held in question for its violation of environmental and human rights, is further strengthening the corporate-media nexus where each profits from the other.

Also noteworthy in this campaign is the choice of Priyanka Chopra as the campaign ambassador. Chopra was earlier seen featuring in the advertisement of the ‘Ponds White Beauty’ product. This product which promotes the idea of whiteness as beauty, fairness as norm. The message of the ad was quite clear, that being dark is not beautiful, it is to be done away with.

The Bollywood actress associated herself with a product that went further in trying to create a ‘niche’ among its many competitors that rule the not-so-fair Indian fairness market. The product claimed to achieve something, which hadn’t been done before. It did not just promise ‘glow’ (read whiteness), but, ‘pinking glow’.

This in a nation so obsessed with the idea of ‘fair’ skin where the sales of whitening products far outstrip those of Coca-Cola and tea, according to one market research firm’s report. This in a nation where the market of fairness products was worth over US$400 million in 2010, according to a report by AC Nielsen, a market which is growing at 18% per year.

Questions then need to be asked about what ‘pride’ this campaign claims to bring. How just is it ethically, morally and politically to have a campaign on an issue of crucial significance being run and promoted by social actors whose very actions damage the standing of the girls in our society.

(The writer is a Research Scholar at the University of Sydney and could be contacted at [email protected] or could be followed on Twitter @bprerna)

Please sign two petitions below, one to NDTV and one to priyanka chopra agaisnt VEDANTA’S desperate attempt as PR exercise to save themselves  after being kicked out by dongria kondh tribals, with resounding no to mining by 12 villages as asked by Supreme court

PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE

Ask Priyanka Chopra to withdraw as ambassador of Our Girls Our pride Now !!

 

Ask NDTV to stop sleeping with Enemy Vedanta Now !!

 

 

 

 

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Match Over – Niyamgiri Hills – 12- Vedanta Resources – 0- #TribalRights Win ! #goodnews

12 gram sabha too votes against Vedanta mining in Niyamgiri hills
The 12th gram sabha in progress at Jarapa village in Rayagada district of Odisha on Monday. Photo: A. Manikanta Kumar
Santosh Patnaik

The Hindu

“It is time now for Vedanta to gracefully respect public sentiment and pack off its establishment”

Efforts of Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL), belonging to London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc, to mine bauxite ore in Niyamgiri hills in Odisha received a severe blow on Monday with the 12 palli (gram) sabha also voting against mining there.

This is the first time an environmental referendum is conducted on a directive by the Supreme Court to find out whether mining in Niyamgiri will tantamount to an infringement of the religious, cultural, community and individual rights of local forest-dwellers.

The gram sabha held here – a non-descript inaccessible village about 85 km from the district headquarters town of Rayagada district of Odisha – was the final one in a row of palli sabhas held so far in Rayagada and Kalahandi districts that rejected mining in the hills.

VAL has already set in motion the process to put pressure on the State government for allotment of alternative mining sites in nearby areas.

Niyamgiri hills, home to 8,000-odd Dongria Kondhs, a primitive tribal group, a few hundred Kutia Kondhs and other forest-dwellers who eke out a living cultivating pulses, paddy and collecting naturally-grown horticultural crops, is considered sacred by the indigenous tribes and others as it is the abode of Niyamraja – their presiding deity.

After the unanimous resolution opposing mining was adopted, tribal people from neighbouring areas celebrated the ‘success’ of their decade-old agitation against mining in Niyamgiri by dancing with traditional musical instruments.

Braving heavy rain, 12 voters from Jarapa said they were ready to face bullets to stop digging of bauxite in Niyamgiri.

“Niyamraja has blessed us with a rich forest and eco-system. We will not allow anyone to damage the sacred mountain on top of which he lives from time immemorial,” declared local activist Lada Sikaka.

District Judge Sarat Chandra Mishra told The Hindu that all resolutions passed at the gram sabhas would be sent to the Ministry of Environment and Forests as per the court order.

Mr. Mishra, who trekked nearly 60 km to attend seven gram sabhas as an observer, said it was a challenging experience for him as the villages are located on remote hilly terrains.

“As all gram sabhas unanimously have rejected mining in the hills despite the sinister design by the Odisha government and ruffians engaged by Vedanta, it is time for Vedanta to gracefully respect public sentiment and pack off its establishment,” Lingaraj Azad, leader of Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, told The Hindu.

Sterlite (now VAL) signed a MoU with the Orissa Mining Corporation for a joint venture to mine bauxite ore from Niyamgiri in 2003. VAL commissioned its alumina refinery at Lanjigarh, located at the foothills of Niyamgiri, in 2007, by investing R.4,500 crore with an initial capacity of one million tonne per annum. After shutting it down for eight months due to raw material scarcity, it was reopened in July and now runs at almost half of its rated capacity.

A top official of Vedanta, before attending the AGM of Vedanta Resources in London, was quoted as asking where else one could run an alumina refinery if not in Odisha? Informed sources told The Hindu that 19 mining leases applied by VAL were pending before the State government.

The sources said that even if chances to extract ore from Niyamgiri were bleak, there was scope for mining in Kurlapeta, Sanbarmalli, Boflamalli, Chandalgiri, Kotikidongar and other hills close to Niyamgiri. “The entire hill range is rich in bauxite ore,” a senior revenue official said.

Keywords: Niyamgiri hills, 12 gram sabhas, Vedanta mining, illegal mining, Dongria Kondhs, Vedanta Aluminium Limited

  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://www.kractivist.org/india-11th-village-rejects-mining-score-card-niyamgiri-11-vedanta-0/" target="_blank"> #India – 11th Village rejects mining, Score Card- Niyamgiri – 11- Vedanta -0
  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://www.kractivist.org/india-first-peoples-court-rejects-vedanta-tribals-claim-entire-niyamgiri-hills-goodnews/" target="_blank"> #India – First people’s court rejects Vedanta, tribals claim entire Niyamgiri hills #Goodnews
  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://www.kractivist.org/let-us-pause-and-listen-to-the-wisdom-of-the-people-of-niyamgiri-mustshare/" target="_blank">Let us pause and listen to the wisdom of the people of Niyamgiri #mustshare
  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://www.kractivist.org/we-won-niyamgiri-is-saved-lets-celebrate-at-the-agm-in-london-vedanta/" target="_blank">WE WON! Niyamgiri is saved! Lets celebrate at the AGM in London #Vedanta
  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://www.kractivist.org/how-vedantas-mine-hope-rests-on-12-tribal-villages-mustshare/" target="_blank">How Vedanta’s mine hope rests on 12 tribal villages #mustshare

 

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How Vedanta’s mine hope rests on 12 tribal villages #mustshare

By Faisal Mohammed AliBBC Hindi, Orissa

Dongria Kondh tribespeopleThe Dongria Kondh tribespeople say the Vedanta mining project will destroy their sacred hill and their source of livelihood

In a remote village in the eastern Indian state of Orissa tribespeople have gathered under hastily erected sheds to decide whether to allow mining group Vedanta to extract bauxite from the earth.

Vedanta, owned by Indian businessman Anil Agarwal, wants to extract bauxite from the 92 sq miles (240 sq km) Niyamgiri hill range which is revered by the Dongria Kondh tribe.

The Dongria Kondh say the mining project will destroy their sacred hill and their source of livelihood. Vedanta has said the project would bring jobs and development to one of India’s poorest districts.

In April, India’s Supreme Court maintained an ongoing ban on bauxite mining in the hill range and gave the local village councils in Rayagada and Kalahandi districts three months to decide whether they wanted mining in their area.

Dongria Kondh tribalThe tribespeople say they will not let anyone mine their earth

At the meeting in Baturi village, a judge and a couple of officials sit on plastic chairs under the shed. Then an official reads out the court order and asks the villagers to vote on the proposal – whether mining will infringe on the cultural and religious rights of the forest dwellers.

The village council members take to the microphone one by one and put forth their points of view in the local Kuvi language.

‘Our god’An interpreter translates each speech in the state’s official language Oriya and transcribes it on a piece of paper. The speakers are then asked to sign or put their thumb impressions on their statements.

“Niyamgiri is our God. Niyamgiri takes care of our needs. We grow mangoes, berries, black pepper, cinnamon and other things here. Medicinal herbs grow here. We have 13 special prayer days for Niyamgiri every year. We would not let Niyamgiri go,” Badaka Diko, 70, says.

She is not alone in her opposition to the controversial project: so far, 10 of the 12 villages selected for the “consultation process” have rejected Vedanta’s plans.

Vedanta chairman Anil Agrawal has said he will “only start work if we have complete permission of the court and the people” and his company has already invested in an alumina refinery plant, roads, a township, school and hospital in the area.

A tribal consultation on Vedanta projectSo far, 10 of the 12 villages selected for the “consultation process” have rejected Vedanta’s plans

A resettlement colony has also been built for those who got uprooted when the refinery project came up.

Lado Sikaka, a tribal leader, says that his land was “taken away by the company, the women in house were harassed, and the police beat me and my relatives accusing us of being Maoists”. Vedanta denies such allegations.

A federal committee has said the Orissa government did not consult the tribespeople while acquiring their land.

A senior member of a tribal village council, Prakash Karsika, says they have nothing against Vedanta.

Vedanta offices in MumbaiVedanta currently specialises in metals production

“It is not Vedanta we have a problem with, we would not allow anyone to dig up Niyamgiri,” he says.

The Geological Survey of India says the country has huge bauxite reserves and 74% of this is concentrated on the eastern coast.

Mr Karsika says if mining is allowed in the area, it will be an environmental disaster – the whole forest will get destroyed and there will be no rains.

The hill range is the source of dozens of streams and two perennial rivers – Bansdhar and Nagavali.

“The two rivers and other water sources from Niyamgri irrigate large tracts of farmlands. If they dry up, you will not even get drinking water in the area,” says M Venkat Rao, a farmer from the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh, who has been living in the area for years now.

‘Undue haste’In its defence, Vedanta cites the report of an environment ministry panel which had recommended diversion of forestland for mining projects.

But the report was questioned by a panel set up by the Supreme Court which also criticised the environment ministry for the “undue haste” in granting clearances to Vedanta.

Later, another panel set up by the environment ministry said thatVedanta should not be given mining rights in Orissa.

The committee, which investigated alleged violations of environmental laws by the company in Kalahandi district, “said mining would deprive primitive tribal groups of their rights over the proposed mining site in order to benefit a private company”.

Dongria Kondh tribespeopleThe tribal people worship the Niyamgiri hills

The findings also accused the company of illegally occupying forest land with the alleged collusion of local officials. There were also accusations of human rights violations, including police brutality and use of threats and force by local authorities against the tribals.

Vedanta has consistently said it has complied with all rules and regulations but nevertheless it saw the cancellation in August 2010 of an earlier clearance given to the project by the environment ministry.

The BBC made several attempts to contact the company to get its reaction to the consultation process, but the company had no comment to make.

Media reports say that Vedanta has asked the state government for an alternative mining site.

The consultations ordered by the Supreme Court are due to end by 19 August after which the court will get a report and will take a decision.

The village council votes are likely to heavily influence the court order, although they will not be the sole consideration.

With only two of the village councils left to meet, the odds seem heavily stacked against Vedanta and its multi-billion-dollar project.

The project has also sharpened the debate over the investment climate in India, its drive for economic development versus the rights of the local people to continue with their traditional way of life.

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