Human rights watchdog Amnesty International on Tuesday alleged that the government and Vedanta had failed to protect Orissa’s indigenous communities from health hazards of mining, but the mining major hit back saying the claims were based on an “outdated document”.
In a report released on Tuesday, Amnesty alleged that the 8,000 strong community, mainly ‘adivasis’ (tribals) in Orissa’s Lanjigarh suffered violations of human rights to water and health, due to pollution by Vedanta’s aluminium refinery.
“Vedanta Aluminium Ltd’s alumina refinery has led to water and air pollution, seriously undermining the quality of life and threatening the health of nearby communities, some of whom live only a few hundred yards from the refinery’s boundary walls,” the Amnesty report said.
It also alleged that the Centre failed to obtain “free, prior and informed consent” of the Dongria Kondh people living in forests of Niyamgiri Hills before approving this project.
The Centre, on its part, said it is yet to receive the Amnesty’s report and as such, a new Act (the Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation Act) is on the anvil to take care of issues, including tribal rights and welfare.
Reacting to the report, Vedanta said: “The majority of the report is based on an outdated document which was subjected to intense scrutiny by the Supreme Court.”
The firm claimed that it offered for joint verification of allegations in eight villages, and dialogue on every aspect of the report but it was rejected.