Amnesty opposes Vedanta ops in Orissa

Says, the company should neither be given mining rights nor allowed to expand existing plant

GN Bureau | February 9, 2010

The Amnesty International on Tuesday said that UK-based firm Vedanta should not be given mining rights in the forested Niyamgiri Hills of Orissa until it got "informed consent" of the tribal people.

London–based Amnesty said "no process to seek the (tribal) community's informed consent has been established" and therefore, the Indian government should not allow it the mining rights until the 8,000-strong Dongria Kondh tribals gave their permission.

The group also said that Vedanta was planning a six-fold expansion of its existing alumina refinary plant in Orissa but this should not be allowed until pollution and health issues affecting the tribals were resolved.

In a report, released here on Tuesday, Amnesty said those living near the Lanjigarh refinery in Orissa breathed polluted air and were afraid to drink from or bathe in local rivers. It called on Vedanta Resources not to expand the refinery or mine for bauxite nearby before resolving the problems.

Opponents of the project say the mine will destroy the area's ecosystem and threatens the future of the Dongria Kondh.

Amnesty's statement came as Survival International, which campaigns on behalf of indigenous people, appealed to film director James Cameron to help it stop the mine in an advertisement in US entertainment magazine Variety.



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