Further blows to Vedanta's notorious Niyamgiri project

Vedanta's aluminium refinery at Lanjigarh, Odisha, seen from the Niyamgiri Hills
Vedanta’s aluminium refinery at Lanjigarh, Odisha, seen from the Niyamgiri Hills
© Survival

In rapid succession, Vedanta has had the Environment Clearance for its Niyamgiri mine cancelled and lost an appeal to expand the neighbouring alumina refinery.

In virtually his last act in office, India’s Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh revoked one of the two permits FTSE 100 company Vedanta Resources needs to open its notorious Niyamgiri bauxite mine.

The other permit, known as Forest Clearance, had been denied by Ramesh’s Ministry in August 2010, after an investigation revealed ‘blatant disregard’ for the rights of local tribal peoples, including the Dongria Kondh, and ‘serious transgression’ of national laws.

Both permits are necessary for the mine to go ahead.

The Ministry’s decision to quash Forestry Clearance is currently being challenged in the Supreme Court in a case that pits the Delhi-based Ministry against the government of Orissa, site of the proposed Niyamgiri mine.

The Dongria Kondh tribe, who live only in the Niyamgiri Hills, have remained strongly opposed to the mine and the neighbouring Vedanta alumina refinery, which is already operating. A Dongria leader told Survival, ‘We have heard that the mining has been stopped but we think that whilst the refinery is still there, our people, our land may be taken away some day. If the refinery goes then we’ll be happy.’

Vedanta had hoped to expand the Lanjigarh refinery six-fold but the Environment Ministry denied the company permission. Vedanta lost its appeal case this week – a further nail in the coffin of the Niyamgiri project.

Meanwhile, a group of Dongria leaders has travelled across Orissa to support villagers resisting a giant steel plant by Korean company POSCO on their land.

Notes to editors:

Vedanta’s AGM will be held in London on the 27th July, where the company will face tough questions on the Niyamgiri mine and other controversial projects. Survival will be demonstrating outside the event to urge Vedanta to abandon plans to mine in the Niyamgiri Hills.

The AGM is at 3pm on the 27th July at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Broad Sanctuary, Westminster, London SW1P 3EE. The demonstration starts at 2pm.