Anil Agarwal and Vedanta Resources humiliated as environment award withdrawn

A Dongria Kondh woman.
A Dongria Kondh woman.
© Jason Taylor

British mining company Vedanta Resources, owned by billionaire Anil Agarwal, faced humiliation at the weekend as its ‘Golden Peacock’ award for environmental management was withdrawn at the last minute.

The prize was withdrawn the day before it was due to be handed over after activists revealed details of the company’s highly polluting alumina refinery on the land of Kondh tribes in Orissa, India.

Demonstrators at the event in Palampur, India, took over the podium to denounce Vedanta’s appalling environmental record.

A subsidiary of the FTSE 100 mining conglomerate had already energetically publicised its receipt of the award for environmental excellence, sponsored by the World Environment Foundation and the UK’s Institute of Directors, but event organisers decided to withhold the award after hearing the demonstrators speak.

Government pollution inspectors have commented on the ‘alarming’ and ‘continuous’ seepage of toxic waste from the refinery. Kondh people living near the refinery have told Survival International they have suffered skin problems after bathing in polluted water, that their crops are choked by dust from the refinery, and that cattle have died after drinking from polluted streams.

More than two hundred organizations around the world have also signed a letter denouncing Vedanta’s award.

Vedanta’s refinery is integrally linked to their plans to mine bauxite from the sacred hill of the Dongria Kondh tribe, adjacent to the refinery. This plan is the subject of an ongoing investigation into Vedanta by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development).

One of the demonstrators at the awards, Mamata Dash, said, ‘We now have 200 endorsements of our letter [denouncing Vedanta’s award] in a very short time, which shows that people are reacting to Vedanta’s adverse effects on the world. People will not take it lying down, they are determined that people know about such a devastating company. The people are united.’

Stephen Corry, Director of Survival said today, ‘Vedanta’s Lanjigarh project is not only an environmental disaster, but a human disaster. No amount of PR can cover the dirty truth.’

Mamata Dash is available for interview.

For more information and images please contact Miriam Ross on (44) (0)20 7687 8734 or (44) (0)7504 543 367 or email [email protected]

We apologise to Bianca Jagger for saying she was a sponsor of the 'global convention on climate security', a claim wrongly made by the World Environment Foundation. We applaud Ms Jagger’s human rights work and regret any distress or embarrassment caused.