Tribes stage mass protest against British mining company Vedanta

Last January protesters formed a human chain to protect their sacred mountain from Vedanta
Last January protesters formed a human chain to protect their sacred mountain from Vedanta
© Survival

Several hundred tribespeople today staged a protest against FTSE-100 company Vedanta, as it bids massively to expand its controversial aluminium refinery in Lanjigarh, Orissa.

The refinery occupies land belonging to the Majhi Kondh tribe, and lies at the foot of the Niyamgiri hills, home of the isolated Dongria Kondhs. Both tribes took part in the protests.

The refinery has already been condemned by government officials for regularly breaching safety standards, and emitting ‘alarming’ pollution. Over a hundred families lost their homes to the refinery. Many more lost their farm land and with it their food-security and self sufficiency.

Vedanta’s refinery expansion project is integrally linked to its plan to mine the Dongria Kondh’s mountain home. Vedanta’s mine is needed to provide the refinery with a nearby, and cost efficient, source of bauxite – the raw material for aluminium.

One Dongria Kondh man told Survival, ‘Mining only makes profit for the rich. We will become beggars if the company destroys our mountain and our forest so that they can make money. We cannot give our mountain, it is our life. And other tribes will also suffer, those who live on the rivers that come from our mountain.’

Today’s protest is just the latest in a string of demonstrations against Vedanta’s activities. In January Dongria men and women joined other local communities to form a human chain around their sacred mountain.

Survival’s director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘The Dongria have shown yet again how determined they are to stop Vedanta from defiling their sacred mountain and from expanding their polluting refinery. Vedanta’s PR cannot cover up the true feelings of the people forever, and Survival will keep doing whatever it can to amplify the voices of the Dongria Kondh and their neighbours.’