Victory for Dongria Kondh as Vedanta abandons bauxite refinery on sacred land

Image by Survival International

By Survival International

Supporters of India’s Dongria Kondh tribe are celebrating after controversial British mining company Vedanta Resources declared it will close its bauxite refinery in the state of Orissa, this December.

The news is a major breakthrough for the tribe, who have fought a David and Goliath battle against Vedanta’s plans to extract bauxite from their land.

Dongria leader, Lodu Sikaka, said today, ‘We will be happy if the company leaves. If the refinery is there, they will keep trying to take our mountain, if not today, then tomorrow, or two years, 10 years from now.’

The Lanjigarh refinery sits at the base of the Dongria Kondh’s Niyamgiri Hills, which are home to the 8,000-strong tribe, and the seat of their god Niyam Raja. The company has spent more than one billion US dollars expanding the site without securing all the required clearances, as well as knowing it was unable to source enough bauxite to run the refinery at capacity.

Vedanta has now blamed the closure on a ‘depleting stock position of bauxite’. But, there are concerns the company’s announcement is intended to pressure the government into allowing it to mine the Niyamgiri Hills. The issue has returned to India’s Supreme Court, but the case is currently adjourned.

Opposition to Vedanta’s push to mine the mountains has embroiled the company in a near decade-long dispute, and forced the Lanjigarh refinery to be run with bauxite from different mines across India. A Vedanta spokesman claimed this has cost the company half a billion dollars.

Survival International’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘When we started our campaign for the Dongria Kondh, we were repeatedly told it was a hopeless case and the mine would be built. It hasn’t been. The infrastructure is rusting away and now Vedanta says it will shelve its refinery. This is a fantastic vindication of the tribal people’s determination to keep the lands which are rightfully theirs, and the pressure brought to bear by thousands of their and our supporters around the world. Public pressure is the only thing which can save tribal peoples in the long-term, and it works.’

From Survival International: http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/8670

Tags:

Categories: Colonialism, Corporations, Culture of Occupation, Development, Ecocide, Indigenous People, Mining, Resistance

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6 Comments on “Victory for Dongria Kondh as Vedanta abandons bauxite refinery on sacred land”

  1. September 19, 2012 at 5:33 am #

    Reblogged this on Warren Draper.

  2. Aakriti Thapar
    January 17, 2014 at 2:23 am #

    Truly speaking, India is one of the Asian countries having countless reservoirs beneath the soil. There are so many national and international stakeholders that are willing to explore them out but the need is to develop proper policies that can support the stakeholders equally. I appreciate a similar gesture from Mr. Anil Aggarwal today when he shared a tweet by highlighting the importance of policy making under this section of the state.

  3. Shikhar Singh
    January 17, 2014 at 2:25 am #

    It has been observed for the last several decades that the public and private sectors are not treated on equality basis. The results are disastrous. Mr. Anil says that now it’s the need of the hour that these two should sit together and stick together for the same aim and that is the better future of the country.

  4. Lokesh Yadav
    January 17, 2014 at 2:35 am #

    Vedanta Chief, Mr. Aggarwal is truly concern about the progress of the state especially in
    mining sector. He has highlighted a major factor that is actually pulling the country back
    towards the dark side, the discrimination between the public sector and private sector
    companies. Unless the state generates equality based policies, I think it’s not possible to
    triumph the aimed goals.

  5. January 17, 2014 at 10:36 pm #

    I think the project of Vedanta mining is being misunderstood on the government level. The
    issue is to prioritize the public sector over the private sector which is generating a state of
    discrimination among the organizations. In fact if the government takes the Vedanta mining
    project seriously and on equality basis, I think it can go in the favor of the state as well as
    the citizen of India.

  6. January 17, 2014 at 10:40 pm #

    In one of his Interviews, Mr. Aggarwal said that this project of Vedanta mining can produce jobs for around 50 million people round the country. Well I think if it happens, it will be an achievement and honor to show for the rest of the world.

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