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Protesters demand action against Vedanta

Shareholders of Vedanta Resources, a FTSE 100 company that has been embroiled in a row over its activities in India, were on Tuesday booed by protesters gathered outside the venue of its Annual General Meeting in Westminster.

They called for its expulsion from India and an investigation into its trade practices and human rights record.

Carrying banners with slogans such as “Vedanta, Give it Up” and “Indian Government-No U-turn on Niyamgiri,” the protesters said the company must abandon its “notorious” mine in the Niyamgiri Hills, in Orissa, home of the Dongria Kondh tribe, which has been campaigning against it.

Permission denied

Vedanta was denied permission to mine in the Niyamgiri Hills following widespread protests, but it has challenged the decision in court.

“Vedanta's bauxite mining has killed thousands, mainly Adivasi people, in India in accidents, police firings, forced displacement, injury and illness. It has displaced thousands of families and destroyed the environment, contaminating drinking water and devastating vast tracts of fertile land in an area of Orissa which has experienced famine regularly since 2007,” said Amrit Wilson of campaign group “Foil Vedanta.”

A spokesman for Survival International said several investors had already disinvested a total of over $40m from Vedanta in protest over the Niyamgiri mine project and other concerns over the company's human rights and environmental record.

Its director Stephen Corry said: “When shareholders are disinvesting, and expressing serious concerns about company conduct, it's time to reconsider policy. Vedanta should respect the resounding ‘no' from the Indian government and abandon the Niyamgiri mine: it might go some way to righting its appalling human rights record.”

Actor Michael Palin, who visited the Niyamgiri Hills, said: “I am very disappointed that the decision to stop Vedanta's mine by India's Environment Minister is now being challenged in the Courts. Vedanta needs, once and for all, to abandon this ill-conceived project and respect the rights of the Dongria Kondh people.”

Protests were also planned inside the AGM.

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Printable version | Sep 29, 2020 8:52:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/protesters-demand-action-against-vedanta/article2300115.ece

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