Largest Indian business paper sides with the Dongria Kondh

The Economic Times say stopping Vedantas mine is a matter of justice.
The Economic Times say stopping Vedantas mine is a matter of justice.
© Jason Taylor

India’s leading business paper, The Economic Times, has called for Vedanta’s planned mine in Orissa to be blocked.

In an editorial this week, the paper published a damning indictment of the project, and the effect it will have on the Dongria Kondh tribe.

The company wants to mine the sacred mountain of the Dongria, who have become known as the ‘Avatar tribe’ due to the close parallels with the plight of the Na’vi of James Cameron’s film Avatar.

The paper says that if the mine goes ahead it will ‘impoverish a defenceless populace, perhaps to extinction.’ It goes on that stopping the mine is in the interest of ‘internal security, survival of an endangered primitive [sic] tribe and justice and fairness’.

This is the first time a major Indian newspaper has come out against the mine. Vedanta’s project is fast becoming the most controversial mining venture in the world. The Church of England, the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Government of Norway have all sold their shares in Vedanta over the project, and the UK government said it was ‘essential’ that the company change its behaviour.

A government team of experts recently reported that Vedanta’s mine ‘may lead to the destruction of the Dongria Kondh’ as a distinct tribe. All eyes are now on India’s Minister of Environment and Forests, who is expected to decide soon whether or not to allow the mine.

In summing up, the Economic Times says, ‘India can progress with some of its bauxite continuing to lie underground for some more time. India cannot progress with a growing internal security threat’ which it feels will be worsened if the mine goes ahead.