Call out for action! Labour MP for Brent North – Barry Gardiner – has invited the Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi to come and address the House of Commons on the subject of ‘The Future of Modern India’. Narendra Modi is the Prime Ministerial candidate of the Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) and an avowed admirer of Hitler and his policies. In 2002, Modi presided over the genocidal attacks in which over 2,000 men, women and children from Gujarat’s Muslim minority community were systematically killed, including three British citizens.
This is purely an attempt to help British corporates sell their products and services in Gujarat in the interests of larger profits. Modi’s past visits to the UK have been used to raise extensive funds and support for communal violence. A visit at this time is particularly dangerous and must be stopped.
A rally will be held at Barry Gardiner’s surgery. Please come with placards and energy!
20th August, 2013. Yesterday Jarapa – the last of the twelve villages selected to vote on the proposed Niyamgiri mine – sealed the victory of the mountain and its people over Vedanta, as, like every other village, it unanimously opposed the mine. Niyamgiri has now spoken, and commentators agree that, though the Ministry of Environment and Forests has the final say on the resolution passed by the villages, they would face public outcry if they ignored the clear message of the Dongria.
Thanks to the hard work of activists at, and around, Niyamgiri, the precedent process, enabled by the Supreme Court, has been fully transparent, and the Odisha government’s attempts to use violence and manipulation to influence the verdict, have failed. As a result the world has witnessed the clarity and conviction of Niyamgiri’s people – from Dongria and Kutia Konds, to Dalits, Gaudas and others who live off the bounty of the mountain – who realise that there is no richer life than having self sufficiency, community and freedom. In the palli sabhas Niyamgiri’s tribal people showed their wisdom and knowledge as they articulated their vision of development, and questioned the type of development prescribed for them by the state, which they do not recognise as progress. (More details below). Yesterday they celebrated their great victory with music, drums and dancing.
The Hindu newspaper quotes Lingaraj Azad, leader of Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti on the final palli sabha vote:
“As all gram sabhas have unanimously rejected mining in the hills despite the sinister design by the Odisha government and ruffians engaged by Vedanta, it is time Vedanta gracefully respected public sentiment and packed off,”
The Ministry of Environment and Forests now have two months to deliver the final verdict on the mine according to the April 18th Supreme Court ruling. After ten years of bribery, corruption, coercion and violence to try to get Niyamgiri’s bauxite, Vedanta has lost a $7 billion investment. This people’s victory should be a lesson to other communities fighting mega-projects who seek short term profit over the longevity of sustainable communities. With strength, solidarity and commitment you can win. As they say in India – “ladhenge jitenge!” – ‘We will fight, we will win!’. Continue reading Niyamgiri unanimously rejects Vedanta!→
9th August: Ten of twelve Palli Sabhas have now been held on the Niyamgiri hills and each one has unanimously rejected Vedanta’s proposed mine, and laid claim to the whole mountain range for their cultural and religious rights.
The latest meeting to be held was in Lakhpadar on 7th August where 97 voters virulently opposed the project and rejected the claims which the judge claimed were filed for compensation of Forest Rights. Local resident and movement leader Lodo Sikoka told the judge and the panel:
“Our God lives in open space. You keep your God locked with a key. We won’t leave Niyamgiri. If the Government, Political Party Leaders ask for it we will fight and shed blood. Why do the police, armed force destroy our fields and crops in the name of combing Maoists? Why are they entering our territory? Withdraw them immediately.”
While our loud and colourful demonstration was going on outside Vedanta’s Grosvenor square Annual General Meeting, activist shareholders joined other investors inside the AGM to hold Anil Agarwal and his board directly accountable for the company’s many crimes. This year the board seemed to have done some planning. Anil Agarwal had a list of standard answers which were rolled out in response to any question he was asked, and a Far Eastern investor took up the majority of the meeting, edging the dissident shareholders, who usually dominate the meeting, out.
Anil Agarwal is again attempting to paint himself as India’s saviour of poverty. When asked about Lanjigarh refinery and the scandal that is the attempted Niyamgiri mine he responded with a dreamy speech about believing that Niyamgiri was meant for Vedanta. he talked about hearing about Kalahandi as a child – a ‘black spot’ on India, and its ‘poorest poorest place’, and how he’d always wanted to do something about it. He said:
“We took courage to go there, no road even or bridge, it was all isolated, we created infrastructure, 7000 got work, not a blade of grass was moved in Niyamgiri .”
This blade of grass is very famous now. It is the same blade he claims he hasn’t touched during the last ten years AGMs. Meanwhile the refinery has been built and expanded – displacing families who are now destitute, and the Dongria have been harassed, threatened and even killed.