British government slams Vedanta Resources

October 12th, 2009 - 9:15 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 12 (IANS) The British government Monday criticised the global mining group Vedanta Resources, owned by Indian-born billionaire Anil Agarwal, for failing to consult tribal populations in Orissa before launching operations to mine bauxite.
The government upheld complaints made by the NGO Survival International that Vedanta’s operations in the sacred Nyamgiri Hills of Orissa breached guidelines drawn up by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) - a grouping of the world’s most industrialized nations.

A spokesman for Vedanta said the company was in the process of drawing up a full response to the allegations made by Survival International, which campaigns to protect the rights of indigenous people.

“Vedanta disputes Survival’s allegations,” the spokesman said.

Survival described the British government’s report as constituting a “damning verdict” and an “unprecedented attack” on a major British company.

The report ruled that Vedanta did not respect the rights of the Dongria Kondh tribals who inhabit the Nyamgiri Hills and failed to take into account the impact that the mining operations would have on their lives.

Martin Horwood, a British MP who chairs the All-Party Group for Tribal Peoples, said: “This is further powerful evidence that Vedanta must fundamentally change the way it operates.”

Survival director Stephen Corry said: “Vedanta failed even to inform the Dongria Kondh that it plans to turn their sacred mountain into a vast open-pit mine, yet the tribe has the right under international law to give - or withhold - their consent.”

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