Monthly Archives: December 2012

From Phulbari to Niyamgiri!

Activists from Foil Vedanta joined the Bangladeshi community and other organisations today at the AGM of GCM Resources – the UK based mining company who want to displace 220,000 people for a giant open cast coal mine in Phulbari, Bangladesh. As 40 protesters shouted slogans outside the Institute of Directors (IoD) where the AGM was being held, another group of activists blocked the entrance to the building by dumping coal in the doorway.  Inside the AGM one activist dressed as Santa gave company chairman Gerard Holden a present of a stocking of coal.

Two activists from group Agitartworks dressed as GCM Resources executives kicked over a makeshift hut and covered a woman in coal as part of a street theatre outside the door. Police arrested them for breach of the peace but released them shortly after the demonstration.

Police push an activist away from dumping coal on a woman as part of a street theatre. They believed they really were GCM execs!

At the same time inside the AGM an activist dressed as santa from Climate Justice Collective gave a stocking full of coal to the company chairman saying ‘you’ve been naughty this year’. The meeting was totally disrupted by activists from the Bangladeshi community and other organisations including World Development Movement and London Mining Network asking questions about the highly contentious Phulbari project. Foil Vedanta members gave speeches calling for solidarity between movements against mining companies and other corporations looting South Asia’s resources while benefitting from a cloak of London respectability.

In 2006 three people were killed and over 200 injured when paramilitary troops fired on a protest of some 80,000 demonstrators in Phulbari. If completed, it has been estimated that the project would destroy the homes, lands, and water sources of as many as 220,000 people, and forcibly evict an estimated 130,000 people.

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Vedanta and Indian Government ‘friends forever’.

Cover story in December’s Open Magazine (a major Indian glossy) reveals Vedanta’s influence over the Indian government.   

…See the full story below……

Companies like Vedanta are brazenly taking over governance in some parts of India

Mihir Srivastava           22nd December 2012

» Ratan Tata, weeks before relinquishing control of the Tata Group, has warned India of crony capitalism. In a recent interview with PTI, asked if the problem was getting worse, he replied, “Yes. It’s just an observation, I have no facts or figures to prove it.” Asked about a statement he made on the erosion of values and ethics in India, especially within the business community, he said, “I hold that view.”

» Indian Parliament has come to a standstill again as reports surface that the US-based retailer Walmart has spent Rs 125 crore since 2008 on ‘lobbying’ in India for market access among other things.

London protesters join five thousand in India to stop Vedanta mine

A noisy group of protesters armed with horns, megaphones and pots and pans crowded the entrance to the India High Commission today demanding that the Indian Government stop the controversial Niyamgiri mine in Odisha, India. Meanwhile five thousand tribals and farmers living around the Niyamgiri hills held one of largest demonstrations on the mountain since the movement began1.

 Simultaneously judges in the Indian Supreme Court deferred their decision on Vedanta’s planned mega-mine until January as Vedanta announced the closure of their Lanjigarh refinery due to lack of local bauxite.

Outside the Indian High Commission protesters from Foil Vedanta shouted slogans calling for the Indian Government to put a final stop to Vedanta’s long contested bauxite project in the unique tribal region of Niyamgiri. They demanded that the state owned Orissa Mining Corporation is pulled out of dodgy deals it has made with Vedanta in an attempt to force the mine through the courts on Vedanta’s behalf. They called for London to withdraw support for the UK registered company accused by CBI’s former director Richard Lambert and the British parliament for giving the FTSE 100 a bad name(1).

At the height of the demonstration three activists dressed as builders dumped a large pile of mud in front of the glass doors of the India High Commission, blocking the entrance and enraging the security guards. A sign stuck into the mud read ‘Hands off Niyamgiri’.

Meanwhile in Odisha (previously Orissa), India, five thousand tribals and farmers rallied on the threatened mountain in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s final verdict on the mine they have opposed for more than ten years. They waved traditional axes and chanted slogans stating; “We demand complete removal of the company from this land” and “no bauxite no mining, no factory”. Internet and mobile phone connections in the area were disabled by the state authorities.

Simultaneously the Supreme Court of India deferred their final decision on the Vedanta Niyamgiri mine case until January 11th. This will leave Vedanta without local bauxite for their Lanjigarh refinery which they have were forced to close on Wednesday this week. Inside the court today judges considered the indigenous Dongia Kondh’s role in protecting the rich native forest. Presiding over the case Justice Aftab Alam said the verdict would rest on whether the judges consider the rights of indigenous forest dwellers ‘inalienable’ (absolute) or compensatory.

The contentious project was already officially stopped in August 2010 when Indian Minister of Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh, ruled against it citing violations of environment and forestry acts2. But this ruling was challenged on Vedanta’s behalf by the Orissa Mining Corporation, a state owned company with 24% shares in the joint venture to mine Niyamgiri with Vedanta(2). Continue reading