|A Dongria Kondh man.|
© Jason Taylor
A blockade mounted by more than 50 protestors stopped British mining company Vedanta entering the land of the Dongria Kondh and other Kondh tribes under cover of darkness last night.
The FTSE 100 company plans to mine bauxite on the Dongria Kondh’s sacred mountain in the state of Orissa, laying waste to the forests they depend on for their survival.
Last night’s action follows high level meetings at the weekend between Vedanta’s billionaire chairman Anil Agarwal and Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who backs the mine. After the meeting, Agarwal told journalists that mining would start ‘within a month or two’.
India’s Supreme Court has approved Vedanta’s plans, but the mine is yet to receive the environmental clearance required for it to go ahead.
The stand-off between local villagers and Vedanta’s bulldozers at the blockade site continues. Protestor Ajun Chandi, who has received a series of threatening phone calls from Vedanta, says, ‘You must let the whole world know what Vedanta is doing.’
Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Vedanta won't be able to hide its work by invading the Kondhs’ land at night. It doesn't even have official approval. Whether or not it gets it, the Dongria aren’t likely to agree to their homeland and most sacred site being destroyed. Vedanta is trying to intimidate the tribespeople. This is an appalling way for a major British company to behave, it isn't going to work and Vedanta must now expect international opposition to grow.’
For more information please contact Miriam Ross at Survival International on (44) (0)7504 543 367 or email [email protected]