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August 24, 2010

RELEASE/VICTORY: Vedanta Mine Plan on Sacred Tribal Mountain Halted by Indian Government

Vedanta's controversial bauxite mine on the Dongria Kondh’s tribal land has been stopped, after four years of protests by local peoples supported by Survival International and a wide range of affinity campaigns, including most recently by EI’s Earth Action Network.

By Earth's Newsdesk, a project of Ecological Internet (EI)
CONTACT: Dr. Glen Barry, glenbarry@ecologicalinternet.org

Indian Tribal peoples have successfully opposed Vedanta's Bauxite mine

Controversial plans to develop a bauxite mine on sacred tribal land in India [search] have been cancelled by India's environment ministry. The Dongria Kondh’s – an indigenous tribe who have lived since time immemorial around the mountain Niyamgiri in the Indian state of Orissa – demands have been met, and the area will remain wild, lush and sacred. Multi-national company Vedanta’s existing aluminum refinery in the area had polluted local rivers, damaged crops and disrupted the lives of the local tribe; and will now not be able to expand six-fold. This is a Dongria Kondh victory first and foremost.

The project has been delayed by four years because of the Dongria Kondh’s intense opposition locally – including the brandishing of bows and arrows – as well as from environmental and tribal rights group. Globally, a loosely coordinated campaign sought to persuade multi-national Vedanta's shareholders and financiers to distance themselves from the company. This is their magnificent victory as well – for Survival International and Amnesty International, various celebrity activists such as Bianca Jagger and Michael Palin, and numerous other loosely affiliated affinity campaigns, including most recently from Ecological Internet working with the Rainforest Information Centre.

“Yet again global people power has come to the aid of small, intact communities battling the ecosystem destroying economic growth machine. The Dongria Kondh’s amazing efforts should be placed in the context of a global people’s power movement to protect and restore ecosystems, and wrest control of land from industrial and speculative capitalism,” asserts Dr. Glen Barry, Ecological Internet’s President.

“We are pleased to have contributed EI’s Earth Action Network’s [1] support – some 200,000 protest emails sent from nearly 100 countries [2] in a matter of weeks. I do not think it accidental that victory was achieved immediately after me and EI’s network, with John Seed and the Rainforest Information Centre, launched our protests. We got exactly what we wanted from this timely, well-organized and locally coordinated cyber protest – Ecological Internet’s specialty!”

### MORE ###

The project had been thrown into doubt last week when a government inquiry said that mining would destroy the way of life of the area's "endangered" and "primitive" people. The four-person committee also accused a local subsidiary of Vedanta of violating forest conservation and environment protection regulations. Because Niyamgiri Mountain is an important spiritual place, it had not thus far suffered the deforestation and degradation experienced by similar areas in India but contains an elephant reserve with Sambar, Leopard, Tiger, Barking Deer, various species of birds and other endangered species of wildlife. With the announcement, the area is free (for now) from the planned Vedenta bauxite mine.

Jairam Ramesh, India’s minister for environment and forests, said today that the government will issue what is termed a show-cause notice and take action against Vedanta. The news sent Vedanta’s shares down almost 6%, wiping almost £300m off the value of the business. "There are very serious violations of environment act and forest right act," Ramesh told Bloomberg. "There is no emotion, no politics, no prejudice in the decision. It is purely based on a legal approach." Vedanta, which can appeal against the decision, had wanted to expand its existing refinery in the area, generating a six-fold increase in capacity.

Survival campaigner Dr Jo Woodman said: "This is a victory nobody would have believed possible. The Dongria's campaign became a litmus test of whether a small, marginalised tribe could stand up to a massive multinational company with an army of lobbyists and PR firms and the ear of government…. Incredibly, the Dongria's courage and tenacity, allied with the support of many people in India, and Survival's supporters around the world, have triumphed."

This is the second time Ecological Internet’s Earth Action Network has recently achieved major conservation successes in India. Last year, also working with John Seed and the Rainforest Information Centre, Ecological Internet was able to single-handedly achieve major Asian elephant migration corridor protections [3].

### ENDS ###

[1] Earth Action Network’s current alerts are found at http://www.ecoearth.info/shared/alerts and you can subscribe to new alert notifications at: http://www.ecoearth.info/shared/subscribe/ and on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ecointernet

[2] Action Alert: UPDATE: India's Dongria Kondh Tribal Way of Life Threatened by British/International Vedanta Mining - http://forests.org/shared/alerts/send.aspx?id=india_mine

[3] Action Alert: Critical Elephant Corridor in India to be Severed - http://forests.org/shared/alerts/send.aspx?id=india_elephants

This release uses information provided by the Guardian:
Vedanta mine plan halted by Indian government
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/aug/24/vedanta-mine-plan-halted-indian-government

DISCUSS RELEASE:
http://forests.org/blog/ | http://www.facebook.com/ecointernet | http://www.twitter.com/ecointernet


Comments

This is wonderful news!!! Thanks for all the great work you do.

I can only imagine how relieved and happy the Dongria people must be today.

That movie you made of them was so beautiful and heartbreaking. Great job.

Wish I had some money to send you but I'm pretty broke right now. Will help out when times change.

In Gratitude,

beautiful job, thank you both for giving us the story of the Donghria Kondh and lighting this fire in all of us

Lilith


[PDF]
Robert Goodland
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - Quick View
India: Orissa, Kashipur: Utkal Bauxite & Alumina Project: Human Rights and Environmental Impacts. R. Goodland, 20 March 2007: Page 1 of 2. Executive Summary ...
www.business-humanrights.org/Documents/Goodland-Utkal-Mar-2007.pdf

V best
Rbt

Thanks for the good news :-) Keep up the good work...
Dave

Bloody Brilliant. Well Done !!

I and my company eSutras Organics would love to know how we can associate ourselves with the Kondhs to help sustain them. Any information will be gratefully received. This is real Big News - that sustains hope and nourishes confidence in people who care about all life on our earth.
Many times we as individuals may feel powerless, but then along comes moments like this where our collective power shows change can be made! Thank you very much everybody at Earth Action.

I applaud Minister Ramesh's decision and I hope that the Indian government's decision reflects a growing awareness and concern for tribal people across the country. The critical questions of development, displacement, and livelihood, have not been at the heart of the policies implemented by many of the Indian states. The Kondh are just one of the many tribes that have fallen victim to the so-called 'development' promoted by multinational corporations in India.

Historically development has been defined in relation to the western world's perception of progress, based on the Western model of economic growth fueled by mass industrialization. This model of development has been implemented throughout the world. Rather than improving the living standards of the majority of people, it has instead led to an expansion in social inequalities, and the concentration wealth in the hands of a few.

For the past two years I have been supporting the Kondh's battle to save
their livelihood, under the auspices of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights
Foundation (BJHRF). Last April I visited the Kondh in Orissa India. I was
very moved by their commitment and their unflinching determination to
remain in Niyamgiri Mountain. Kuleska Patru one of the leaders of the
Dongria Kondh told me, "We will not leave Niyamgiri. Without our mountain,
our god, there is no life for us; we will resist the forced expulsion till
death. Just as a fish cannot survive outside of water, the Kondh cannot
survive without Niyamgiri."

During that period I have lobby Government officials in India, spearheaded
a letter campaign to chief Minister of Orissa Naveen Patnaik, attended
and spoken at two shareholders meetings in London, delivered an Amnesty
International petition letter signed by over 30,000 people to chairman
Anil Agarwal at the last AGM and written several articles in the UK and US
media about their plight.

I would be grateful if you could post the links where you can find the
articles:

THE GUARDIAN

The battle with Vedanta is not over yet
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/feb/18/vedanta-mining-battle-plans
Undermining human rights
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jul/27/mining-india-human-rights


THE OBSERVER
The battle for Niyamgiri
This is another version of my visit to the Kondh published by the Observer
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jun/13/mining-aluminium-tribes-india-jagger

THE HUFFINGTON POST

A Landmark Victory for Indigenous and Tribal Rights
Indian Minister of Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh's courageous
decision saves the real Avatar

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bianca-jagger/a-landmark-victory-for-in_b_692857.html

Undermining Human Rights in the Name of Development
This is the story of my visit to Orissa published in the Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bianca-jagger/undermining-human-rights_b_613904.html

FORBES

25 Ideas To Change The World
Bianca Jagger: Crimes Against The Future


http://www.forbes.com/2010/06/15/forbes-india-25-ideas-to-change-the-world-ideas-10_land.html

http://www.forbes.com/2010/06/15/forbes-india-bianca-jagger-crimes-against-future-opinions-ideas-10-jagger_print.html

Thanking you in advance for your attention to this matter,
With all good wishes,

Bianca Jagger

Bianca Jagger
Founder and Chair, Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation
Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador,
Member of the Executive Director's Leadership Council of Amnesty
International USA
Trustee, Amazon Charitable Trust
F: +44 20 7931 9332
TWITTER @BiancaJagger

Congratulations to the Dongria tribe who protested for their rights and also to the EI for the tireless effort.I am reminded of the saying, "people are like thread; they are stronger when they come together." Together we can struggle for everybody's survival.

Its not the victory for only the Dongria Kondh, its the victory of humanism for those who only and only think for their industrial profit, its a slapped those industrialist those who are not taking care of the planet. Great work dear, thanks for sharing with us.

very satback to upcoming industirlization in Orissa.
Invested som much money and resources.
God bless Jairam Ramesh

Friends, great news: following the 3000 emails which you sent to Jairam Ramesh, news is in to-day that Vedanta’s controversial bauxite mine on Dongria Kondh tribal land at Niyamgiri in India has been stopped. You can see the story in The Guardian or the Ministry of Environment and Forests decision itself on the ministry website.

Furthermore, Ramesh has been quoted as saying that Vedanta had committed " very serious violations of environment act and forest right act," and that his department was looking at taking punitive action against the company. The news sent Vedanta shares down 6%.

Thanks so much for your help in creating the conditions which allowed this tremendous decision. Vedanta can still appeal so the story isn’t necessarily over yet, but this would be a good time if you wish to send a short email in your own words congratulating Ramesh - envisect@nic.in

For the Earth

John Seed
www.johnseed.net
Rainforest Information Centre
www.rainforestinfo.org.au

Congratulations to all! Nice to have good news once in a while. I think you're a very important organization.

MMB

P.S. But how are sea turtles doing in Orissa these days?

Fantastic News!!!

The various media press releases only cite whiteface celebs involved in this struggle.
How about adding famous Indian writer, Arundhati Roy??
Shame on you for leaving her out.

Joanna K.

CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Joanna,
We cite India's environmental minister. Arundhati Roy was involved in preparing our action alert, but was unavailable for comment on short notice.
Regards,
Dr. Glen Barry

GOOD!

His Excellency Mr. S.M. Gavai, High Commissioner,
High Commission of India,
10, Springfield Road,
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1M 1C9

August 24, 2010

Your Excellency,

Please pass on my congratulations to your government for its recent decision to block Vedanta Resources' controversial plan to mine bauxite on the sacred hills of the Dongria Kondh tribe.




Environment Minister Mr. Jairam Ramesh has stated that Vedanta has shown a "shocking and blatant disregard for the rights of the tribal groups", and the Minister has also questioned the legality of the massive refinery Vedanta has already built below the hills. His decision to block the mine was obviously the right thing to do, and I would hope that a similarly enlightened decision will be made about the refinery itself.

Given the rising power and influence of India in the world, it is heartening to see your government displaying the kind of just and ethical leadership these troubled and divisive times so desperately need.

Yours sincerely,

Christopher O'Brien
426 Davenport Road,
Toronto,
ON M4V 1B5

What wonderful news! this gives HOPE...I am thrilled to read this.