A two day event bringing international activists and academics together to reflect on academic pursuit and forms of knowledge production, and establish working links between those working against the impacts of neoliberalism, the extractive industries, including damage to communities, ecology, democracy and governance.
Hosted by the Centre for World Environmental History (CWEH) University of Sussex.
Speakers from Foil Vedanta and London Mining Network yesterday presented evidence in the House of Commons on the criminal behaviour of some London Listed mining companies, and called for better accountability measures and the de-listing of criminal companies. Focusing on contentious UK miner Vedanta Resources, they exposed new evidence of tax evasion, illegal land grabs, displacement, major pollution and water poisoning, as well as the UK’s role in promoting and protecting the company, and called for its immediate investigation and potential de-listing in London.
In a packed meeting hosted by John McDonnell MP in the House of Commons speakers told MPs, journalists, diplomats and members of the public attending that high risk mining companies like ‘the world’s most hated company’ Vedanta Resources are bringing shame on the London Stock Exchange, and demanded better accountability measures and the de-listing of criminal companies. MPs attending were Jeremy Corbyn, Eric Joyce and John McDonnell.
Tuesday 22nd April. On Monday night the world lost a brilliant and dedicated political activist, people’s movement leader and socialist thinker. Sunil Gupta, better known as Sunilbhai was the general secretary of the Samajwadi Jan Parishad (the Socialist People’s Council), a political party founded by the deeply respected socialist Kishen Pattnayak, and dedicated to supporting people’s struggles across India. As a political activist and people’s economist Sunil succeeded in sustaining the movement of the Adivasis, Dalits and other oppressed caste people’s movement for 32 years from 1984 till his untimely death in 2014.
Sunilbhai trained as an Economist from Jawaharlal Nehru University, but rather than follow a career in the city, settled in the remote Keshla village of Hoshangabad district, Madhya Pradesh in 1984, and organised the locals against oppression under the banner of Kisan Adivasi Sangathan (KAS). He was associated with Samata Yuba Jan Sabha, Samata Sangatahan and Samajwadi Jan Parishad since its inception in 1995.
He rose to prominence leading agitations for rehabilitation of Tawa Dam oustees in 1995 and established India’s most successful adivasi fishing cooperative in the Tawa Dam area. 44 tribal villages were displaced by the Tawa dam, and another 34 by an Army Proof Range Establishment and ordnance factory. Sunil organised them in a struggle for rights and proper rehabilitation, coordinating rallies dharnas and chakka jams which demanded that the fishing rights in the reservoir be given to the displaced tribals. Finally the Madhya Pradesh government conceded the demand and the Tawa Matsya Sangh (Tawa Fishermen Cooperative) was formed in 1996 with the right to fishing and marketing its product for five years. It was later broken up when the catchment area was absorbed by the Satpura Tiger Reserve.
Sunil was a mentor for many activists, some of whom have become prominent socialist lawyers and politicians. Sunilbhai will be deeply missed by his family, friends, colleagues and comrades, and by the thousands of farmers, fishermen and Dalits whom he worked tirelessly in service of.
2nd September 2013.On the same day that the last of twelve villages voted Vedanta out of Niyamgiri for good, Vedanta announced a new major Corporate Social Responsibility and PR campaign to save its tattered reputation. The campaign, in partnership with the Vedanta funded station NDTV, entitled ‘Our Girls, Our Pride‘, will focus on nutrition, education, health, foeticide and infanticide affecting girl children in India. Miss World 2000, Bollywood superstar and UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador for child rights – Priyanka Chopra, will be the face of the campaign. The idea that Vedanta could be an ambassador for the well being of India’s poorest girl children is beyond farcical. Vedanta’s mining and processing operations have displaced, poisoned and polluted thousands of families. Their low pay, anti-union activities and worker’s deaths have deprived hundreds of young girls of their parents and plunged their families into poverty.
Vedanta used the launch of the Our Girls Our Pride programme to promote another PR campaign which they have run since 2008 to make India ‘a child malnourished free nation’. To achieve this goal they promote their take-over of 14,000 Anganwadi (child day care) centres – as part of a mass privatisation programme. This privatisation has been opposed by Anganwadi workers who claim centres are being shut down and jobs lost as a result. Karnataka Anganwadi teachers held a protest in August which demanded an end to Vedanta’s privatisation or a state wide strike would be held.
Vedanta also emphasised their widespread promotion of Self Help Groups which they claim have ‘transformed 14,900 women into Rural Entrepreneurs’, plus health camps, a Heart Hospital in Rajasthan and a 350 bed Cancer Hospital in Raipur. These health centres will be necessary for those living near or working in Vedanta’s plants which have repeatedly polluted and poisoned their locality. Just this year Vedanta’s Sterlite copper smelting subsidiary in Tamil Nadu released toxic gases (thought to be largely sulphur dioxide) which choked thousands of local inhabitants leading to ongoing health impacts and one death. Self Help Groups on the other hand have been effective in reducing mass dissent against Vedanta’s operations, as women receiving money as part of the scheme sometimes feel unable to criticise the company despite the obvious health impacts on their children and themselves. Not in every case however, as even Vedanta’s CSR darling village of Phuldumer on the Niyamgiri mountain adamantly opposed their proposed mine despite the Self Help Groups they had set up there. This article looks at a few specific cases in which young girls have suffered as a result of Vedanta’s activities and aims to demonstrate the total incompatibility of Vedanta’s style of operation with the well being of communities and their girls.
Foil Vedanta is coordinating a mass letter to Priyanka Chopra signed by women’s orgamisations urging her to pull out of the campaign and avoid helping to clean Vedanta’s rightly sullied reputation.
Please sign a public petition asking NDTV to pull out their support for the campaign here, and a petition asking Priyanka Chopra to pull out here, or contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org if your organisation wishes to be a signatory to the letter (which can be found at the end of this post).
1st August 2013. Foil Vedanta’s report with pictures:
Today protesters from Foil Vedanta and other organizations held a loud carnival demonstration at the AGM of controversial FTSE 100 mining company Vedanta at the Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square London. A parallel demo was held in Johannesburg. Yesterday in Delhi almost a hundred people braved rains to raise their protest at Odisha Bhawan. Meanwhile, the majority of tribal village meetings given legal power by the Supreme Court of India have unanimously voted against Vedanta’s flagship Niyamgiri mine.
Vedanta’s London AGM was again disrupted today by protesters from Foil Vedanta and other organisations who raised a number of human rights concerns. Chanting and singing was continuous throughout the two hour protest and could be heard inside the AGM. Protesters held placards painted with defiant anti-company quotes from the Dongria Kond tribe in Odisha, India, where the company has been trying to mine illegally for ten years, and has now been stopped. Another group performed street theatre holding a giant inflatable monster with Vedanta Resources painted on it, and snake like heads bearing the names of Vedanta’s subsidiaries. Some Sri Lankan protesters played Parai drums (a Tamil drum of revolution) outside the Mayfair venue. Vedanta subsidiary Cairn India is drilling in the fragile Mannar basin off Sri Lanka. At the peak of the protests a sit in was staged as the Vedanta monster was used to block the road.