Vedanta’s Anil Agarwal will give 75% of his wealth to charity
Anil Agarwal, the billionaire controller of Vedanta Resources Plc, announced late on Thursday that he and his family had agreed to give 75 percent of their wealth to charity.
Agarwal, a one-time scrap metal dealer, made the announcement at an event in London to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Vedanta’s listing on the London Stock Exchange.
Forbes estimated that the 61-year-old Indian entrepreneur has a net worth of $3.5 billion.
August 1st 2014. Protesters from Foil Vedanta, MPs and other organizations today held a loud and colourful demonstration at the AGM of controversial FTSE 250 mining company Vedanta at the Lincoln Centre, Lincoln Inn Fields, London. On 31st August parallel demos were held in Odisha, Delhi and Johannesburg. 400 miners protested Vedanta’s Konkola Copper Mines in Ndola, Zambia. In Odisha, India, a consultation on the proposed six fold expansion of the Lanjigarh refinery on 30th July met with major opposition after Vedanta lost permission to mine the Niyamgiri Hills this year. Meanwhile, Vedanta are accused of tax evasion and mismanagement at their Konkola Copper Mines subsidiary in Zambia after investigations revealed they may be externalising up to $500 million per year in profits.
60 people railed against Vedanta’s London AGM today, representing a variety of organisations including diaspora from Zambia, Goa, Tamil Eelam and Odisha where Vedanta is currently embroiled in scandals and accused of major illegalities. Tamil Parai drummers kept up a loud rhythm throughout the demo. Shortly before the AGM started at 3pm a huge banner was unfurled from the top of the next door building saying ‘Vedanta out of London’ eliciting cheers from the crowd. The protesters were joined by a 6m inflatable blade of grass referring to Anil Agarwal’s repeated claim at previous AGMs that Vedanta ‘have not touched a single blade of grass’ at the Niyamgiri Hills. Company executives were hassled as they entered the AGM.
A full account of the questions asked inside the AGM, and Vedanta’s responses can be found at London Mining Network’s website here.
Coverage by: Economic Times, Activists protest at Vedanta’s AGM over alleged illegalities
The Ecologist, India: Foil Vedanta protests erupt in Delhi
Odisha Sun Times, Foil Vedanta stage protest in London; decries company’s move in Odisha.
The Statesman, Protesters target Vedanta, Govt.
MP John McDonnell joined the demonstration and asked questions inside the AGM after he and other MPs heard the case for investigating and de-listing Vedanta in a House of Commons meeting last week. Inside the AGM the leaked conclusions of the suppressed Sandeep Bakshi Judicial Commission report which holds Vedanta guilty of negligence in the 2009 chimney collapse which killed 40 workers at Korba, Chhattisgarh were released. Rajshri Gupte, a journalist from Korba spoke to the crowd via phone link detailing Vedanta (BALCO)’s illegal expansion onto forest land, and lack of permission to operate at their Smelter no 3.
Meanwhile Vedanta held a consultation on the six fold expansion of the contentious Lanjigarh refinery on 30th July which was met with protests of 1000 people, including many Dongria Konds,who disrupted the meetings objecting to the expansion and noting that the proposed source of bauxite is 3.5km from the refinery, intimating that they are still attempting to mine the Niyamgiri Hills despite unanimously losing a precedent local referendum last year. Shockingly the localand even international media reported a majority in favour of the expansion, an unlikely scenario given the historical opposition. A rally in Odisha capital Bhubaneswar yesterday described the hearing as ‘unconstitutional‘.
“It was very clear in the public hearing that the government was pro-actively working with Vedanta. The statements of the dissenting villagers, who were the majority, were not recorded. Why were the recorded minutes of the public hearing not read out in the end? There were so many people at the meeting, not everyone could speak, there was no system of voting to gauge how many people were for and how many against the refinery expansion”.
Kumuti Majhi, a Kond leader from Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti (Niyamgiri Protection Committee) said:
“Already 18 people have died from pollution-related illness since Vedanta built their refinery and red mud pond near Rengopali village. If the refinery will be expanded to six million tonnes we will all die. Vedanta have no permission to mine here, and their expansion is already illegal. We demand that they leave us in peace”
In Delhi 40 people protested outside the Ministry of Environment and Forests yesterday expressing their solidarity with communities suffering Vedanta’s violations and demanding that Vedanta ‘keep its hands off Niyamgiri’.
The crowd gathered in London heard amplified reports from movement leaders and affected people at the previous days demonstrations around the world by phone including one of the 400 miners from Vedanta subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines in Zambia who massed in the streets today demanding Vedanta give them fair wages and pensions, and echoing national calls for Vedanta’s Konkola Copper Mines to be re-nationalised following recent evidence of their major tax evasion and mismanagement of the Zambian asset. A recent judgement suggested Vedanta may be planning to abandon their $1.5 billion liabilities and debt in Zambia. Vedanta shares were down 2.8% on 30th July due to a 43% fall in earnings in Zambia as the government attempts to re-coup debts from the company.
“Vedanta have told so many lies in Zambia. They say they have invested billions of dollars into our mines and that are are loss making and struggling. Now the truth has come out that Vedanta have bled our country dry, externalising their millions in profits and leaving their debt here. They have not paid tax and have even failed to pay their workers or retrenched workers their dues.
We demand justice and ask for the help of the UK government.”
In South Africa, Earthlife Africa held protests on 31st July and 1st August over Vedanta’s planned coal power station in a poor and water-starved area.(10) Dominique Doyle, Energy Policy Officer at Earthlife Africa Johannesburg stated:
“There are many reasons why the Waterberg does not need another coal-fired power station. One, the area is water stressed. Two, the Waterberg is already an air quality high priority area. Three, South African international commitments to climate change cannot support more coal-fired electricity generation.”
- Vedanta subsidiary Cairn India’s oil drilling in the pristine Gulf of Mannar off Sri Lanka, and use of fracking technology, as well as their expansion into South Africa.
- The Indian Supreme Court ruling that all iron ore mining leases in Goa expired on 22-Nov-2007, and mining after that was illegal. For the four full financial years from Apr 1, 2008 till Mar 31 2012, the Sesa Goa group exported 61,447,271 tons of iron ore with a sale value is around Rs.19,00 crores (£1.9 billion).
- Vedanta’s illegal donations to political parties in India, for which it is being investigated.
- Cairn India’s recent $1.25 billion related party loan to parent company Vedanta Resources, which is being questioned for corporate governance and cash utilisation issues.
- Vedanta’s major corporate restructuring, which saved them $200 million in tax, and is now being challenged by the Indian courts.
- A High Court case at Vedanta’s Lisheen zinc mine in Tipperary, Ireland where three senior managers’ pay was stopped after the accused Vedanta executives of bullying them.
- Displacement and disturbance of the Baigas – a Particularly Vulnerable Tribe in Chhattisgarh, India – by Vedanta’s BALCO mines which re-started this year after being closed for irregularities in royalty payments and rehabilitation.
Samarendra Das from Foil Vedanta says:
“The case for de-listing Vedanta in London is mounting rapidly as evidence of major tax evasion, illegal mining, insider trading, related party deals, pollution and workers deaths stack up. Vedanta cannot be allowed to continue to violate laws with impunity. We demand that Vedanta is formally investigated and trialled in the UK, and justice is served to its many victims.”
Journalist Rajshi Gupte from Korba gave this statement today:
“In its BALCO factory in Korba, Vedanta has built a 5.5LTPA Smelter called Smelter 3. It has permission for construction on only 14acres of land, which is not enough for a smelter of that capacity. The rest of the construction is illegal and on forest land. This is a gross violation of the Forest Conservation Act 1980 in India. On top of that, the earlier smelter which existed from pre-privatisation days, which is Smelter 1 was demolished by Vedanta without seeking the appropriate permissions from the state. And now, the License issued by the Industrial Safety Authority for the demolished Smelter 1 is being illegally used by Vedanta to run Smelter 3. Hence, there is no license ensuring the safety of workers for Smelter 3. This is outrageous, especially in the context of the chimney collapse in 2009 that killed 40 and maybe more workers. Vedanta has also not initiated the procedure for land use change and diversion as required by law. There is no adequate facility for managing the ash from a 1700MW plant and instead the height of the red mud pond was raised by 19m, even if they had permission for only a 16m rise. Given these numerous violations of various legal requirements through Vedanta’s aggressive and shameless The Korba venture might face closure soon as well. There is also a case on-going in the Supreme Court of India against Vedanta’s BALCO venture for forest encroachment and cutting of trees.”