Tribe refuses food and medicine from British company

A Dongria Kondh man.
A Dongria Kondh man.
© Jason Taylor

Dongria Kondh villagers in Orissa have refused to accept medicine and food from Vedanta Resources, in protest at the company’s plan to mine the tribe’s mountain.

Reports indicate that representatives of Vedanta Resources approached a health clinic in the Dongria village of Kurli, carrying medicine and rice, apparently as gifts for the community. Dongria leaders stopped the Vedanta vehicle before it could reach the clinic, and told the employees they were not welcome in Kurli village.

This is not the first time Vedanta has tried to hand out goods to the Dongria Kondh.

Last year Vedanta employees visited Kurli and the neighbouring village Khajouri. The men distributed clothes and then asked the Dongrias present to express their support for Vedanta’s mine. One Dongria man from Khajouri village told Survival about the visit:

‘There were three people from Vedanta. They said, ‘We have brought some clothes for your village and we will give them to you.’ They asked us ‘Do you support Vedanta and do you want to mine bauxite?’ We said no, we don’t want to give our mountain. Then they said, ‘Everyone from the other side of the mountain has agreed to mine. If you refuse, we will not give anything to you. If you complain then we won’t provide anything to you again.’’

He added, ‘In my heart I have never supported Vedanta.’

The Dongria Kondh are vigorously resisting Vedanta’s attempts to mine their sacred mountain. Alongside other tribal people in the area, the Dongria regularly block the roads leading into the hills. Vedanta’s mine will destroy the forests that support the Dongria’s self-sufficient lives, and spell the end for one of India’s most remote tribes.