Tag Archives: Samarendra Das

Vedanta boss avoids last AGM as protests rage

1st October 2018. Loud protests took place at the company’s last London AGM today. Company founder and Chairman Anil Agarwal was not present, creating uproar among protesters and shareholders. Vedanta Resources officially de-listed from the London Stock Exchange at 8am this morning. Inside the meeting dissident shareholders asked questions about the police shooting of thirteen protesters against Vedanta’s copper smelter in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu in May. Another shareholder asked how much Vedanta spent on litigation or bribes, given the number of court cases they are tied up in at their various operations. Meanwhile a large contingent of Tamil people played traditional Parai drums and demanded ‘justice for Tuticorin’ outside the AGM.

See a video of the protest here…and here

See here for a full report on the AGM proceedings by London Mining Network: Vedanta AGM – a complete farce.

Coverage by Reuters here and on Moneycontrol here,and in The Hindu here,and Business Standard here, and on MSN here and Lusaka Times here.

Please download the report Vedanta’s Billions- Regulatory failure, environment and human rights , or low res version: Vedanta’s Billions- Regulatory failure, environment and human rights – LOW RES

Hours before the meeting a protest was held at Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) headquarters in Canary Wharf, demanding that British regulatory authorities do not let Vedanta flee the London Stock Exchange without being held to account. Representatives for FCA Directors were handed copies of a damning report Vedanta’s Billions- Regulatory failure, environment and human rights published by Foil Vedanta and a coalition of organisations days before. The report was described by Hywel Williams MP as ‘deeply concerning and disturbing’ and gives a comprehensive account of legal judgments against Vedanta across its global operations, blaming the City of London and FCA for failing to regulate or penalise the company, which is the latest in a long list of London miners linked to ‘corporate massacres’.

Reggae artist and activist Maiko Zulu in Lusaka

On Thursday 27th September popular Zambian reggae artist and public figure – Maiko Zulu – was arrested outside the British High Commission in Lusaka, Zambia, holding a banner stating ‘Hold Anil Agarwal to account for Zambian crimes before de-listing’. Zulu gave this statement to the media, referring to the Vedanta subsidiary KCM’s pollution of the River Kafue, for which the landmark case of 1,826 farmers against Vedanta will be heard in London Supreme Court in January, as well as the Tuticorin ‘massacre’:

Vedanta is being de-listed from the London Stock Exchange following serious crimes against indigenous people of India and the pollution of our own Kafue River which is a source of livelihood for thousands of peasants. The inequality that multinationals are creating can not be left unchecked and we will continue standing up and facing arrests for the good of our people. Our fellow protesters were shot at by police in India.”

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‘Vedanta’s Billions: Regulatory failure, environment and human rights’ – report released

Foil Vedanta and a coalition of organisations have released a damning report Vedanta’s Billions- Regulatory failure, environment and human rights days before Vedanta Resources’ AGM and de-listing, described by Hywel Williams MP as ‘deeply concerning and disturbing’. The report gives a comprehensive account of legal judgments against Vedanta across its global operations, and blames the City of London and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for failing to regulate or penalise the company, which is the latest in a long list of London miners linked to ‘corporate massacres’. A protest will be held at the FCA headquarters in Canary Wharf at 11am on 1st October, handing over a copy of the report and demanding that British regulatory authorities do not let Vedanta flee the London Stock Exchange without being held to account.

The full report can be downloaded HERE: Vedanta’s Billions- Regulatory failure, environment and human rights

Or low resolution version for slow download speeds: Vedanta’s Billions- Regulatory failure, environment and human rights – LOW RES

The report ‘Vedanta’s Billions’, released today, is a summary of legal judgments against Vedanta across its operations, revealing its abusive modus operandi, with special focus on illegal mining in Goa, pollution and tax evasion in Zambia, as well as illegal expansion and pollution in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu, industrial disaster at Korba in Chhattisgarh, land settlement and pollution issues in Punjab, displacement and harassment of activists in Lanjigarh, Odisha, and a mineral allocation scam in Rajasthan.

The report is being released days ahead of the company’s final London AGM and General Meeting, at which it plans to formally de-list from the London Stock Exchange. The move follows the police shooting which killed thirteen people, including women and children, on 22nd May this year, their 100th day of protest against pollution by Vedanta’s copper smelter in Tuticorin, India. The killing is being dubbed a ‘corporate massacre’ and led to the closure of the Sterlite copper plant. Vedanta’s de-listing plans were announced shortly afterwards amidst global protests against the company.

The report notes that Vedanta is now the latest in a string of London listed mining companies linked to the murder or ‘massacre’ of protesters, including Lonmin, Glencore, Kazakhmys, ENRC, Essar, GCM Resources, Anglo Gold Ashanti, African Barrick Gold and Monterrico Metals. As such, the report names the role of the City of London and the Financial Conduct Authority in ‘minimising the risks associated with Vedanta’s legal violations and human rights and environmental abuses’ and failing to investigate or penalise any London listed mining company on these grounds.

A protest will be held outside the FCA headquarters on the morning of the AGM on 1st October, demanding that the body finally investigates the company and holds them to account for the various crimes detailed in the report. The report will be handed to a member of FCA staff at the event.

The report concludes that;

Some companies have de-listed due to a legitimate need to pursue long term company strategy, which may not be supported by shareholders’ emphasis on short term profitability. However in this case, Vedanta’s track record of human rights, environmental and financial violations, together with its already complicated financial structure, strongly suggests that de-listing is part of a policy to further limit public scrutiny of its operations.”

The report also includes a detailed diagram of Vedanta’s corporate structure, as it has evolved over the years, revealing the disproportionate number of shell companies registered in various tax havens, reflecting their opaqueness, contrary to their claim of being transparent.

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London protests condemn Thoothukudi Vedanta Massacre; Demand action in India and the UK

26th May 2018 An angry protest took place today at the Indian High Commission in London. The people were condemning the police firing which killed at least 13 unarmed protesters at an environmental demonstration against British company Vedanta Resources’ copper smelter in Thoothukudi (Tuticorin), Tamil Nadu on Tuesday. There was a strong call from all groups present today to delist Vedanta from the London Stock Exchange, while Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell also sent a statement demanding that Vedanta is de-listed as a ‘rogue corporation’.

  • Recent updates on the ground situation in Tuticorin and ongoing UK protests are also included at the end of this post.

A large and diverse crowd gathered outside the Indian High Commission

There were many speeches and songs from the people today. They shared new information such as Sterlite’s donations to the Police control room in Thoothukudi and highlighted the parallels and called for solidarity with Gaza, Marikana and Kalinganagar massacres. The London protest was called by Foil Vedanta, Tamil People in UK, Periyar Ambedkar Study Circle, South Asia Solidarity Group, Tamil Solidarity, Parai Voice of Freedom and Veera Tamilar Munnani.

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‘Zero harm’ – Minutes of Vedanta Resources’ 2017 AGM

Screen Shot 2017-09-08 at 16.58.457th September.  This year was Vedanta’s 14th AGM, since registering on the London Stock Exchange in December 2003, and the 14th year that dissident shareholders have attended the meeting to hold the company to account for their environmental and human rights abuses. The minutes published by activist shareholders every year, documenting the company’s response to these, and other questions, represent important disclosures on Vedanta’s operations, finances and legal issues. Please spread them far and wide!

Minutes of Vedanta Resources’ 2017 AGM

In the beginning

1. After lengthy introductory remarks, the Chair, Anil Agarwal, opened the meeting. He called 2017 a year of great potential for Vedanta, noting they were now the sixth largest diversified resources company.  He claimed that since 2003 the group has returned over £2 billion to shareholders, and heralded Vedanta’s  positioning, because India and Africa give a unique opportunity for growth. While other companies look to China, he said, Vedanta has India, which is the fastest growing country in the world. Vedanta claims to be one of the biggest tax payers in India. By way of demonstrating his political connections in India, Mr. Agarwal noted he was able to join the Indian State visit to South Africa.

2. He assured shareholders that safety across the company continues to be a priority, claiming again that they are making zero harm, zero waste and zero discharge the ultimate goal. There is some way to go, but he claimed they will not stop until they have achieved this. Agarwal highlighted the ‘challenge’ of climate change and claimed that Vedanta takes its responsibility to society seriously, with various claims to be helping up to 2 million people, especially women and children. In July the company had held its third annual sustainable development meeting with various stakeholders in London. They claimed to welcome ongoing dialogue with NGOs, governments and stakeholders.

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Vedanta’s 2017 AGM again disrupted by protests

Anil Agarwal at Vedanta AGM protest 2017, London14th August 2017. Loud and theatrical protests were again held outside the AGM of British mining company Vedanta Resources’ at the Lincoln Centre, Lincoln Inn Fields, London at 2pm today accusing the company of major environmental and human rights abuses across its operations. Parallel protests and meetings were held today by affected communities and their supporters at several locations in India and Zambia. Inside the AGM, dissident shareholders asked questions on behalf of Zambian villagers who are suing Vedanta in the UK for twelve years of polluted water, as well as tribal inhabitants of the Niyamgiri hills in Odisha, India who accuse Vedanta of murdering and harassing them with state collusion.

Please see the video of today’s protest in London!

and excellent photos from Peter Marshall here.

Coverage on Xinhau news: Environmental protesters picket annual meeting of mining firm Vedanta.

Dissident shareholders in London poured scorn on Vedanta’s 2017 Annual Report, which claims that the company ‘demonstrate world-class standards of governance, safety, sustainability and social responsibility’. They say it represents a poor attempt to don the ‘cloak of respectability’ of a London listing noting that Vedanta was again excluded from the Norwegian Pension Fund’s investments this year following an investigation which found “numerous reports of Vedanta’s failure to comply with government requirements” at four subsidiaries in Odisha, Chhatisgarh, Tamil Nadu and Zambia. The report concludes, “there continues to be an unacceptable risk that your company will cause or contribute to severe environmental damage and serious or systematic human rights violations.”

Vedanta AGM protest 2017, LondonOn Sunday farming communities living downstream of copper mines run by Vedanta subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) in Chingola, Zambia, held a meeting in Hippo Pool to renew their resolve in their twelve year struggle against the company for severe water pollution which has caused major health problems, and rendered land uncultivable. Police had refused them permission to hold a protest. Government officials visited their villages in Spring this year asking them to drop their London case against Vedanta and settle out of court with the company. The Headmen of Hippo Pool village submitted this statement to the Vedanta board and shareholders which was asked by Shoda Rackal from Women of Colour in Global Women’s Strike:

The people here are sick and tired of pollution which is killing us through illness and loss of our crops and fish. The pollution must end at all costs. Whether we receive compensation or not, we are asking you to stop polluting us now.”

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Northern Governmental Organisations: between the free market and the nation state

A placard addressing NGO's role in Zambia

A placard addressing NGO’s role in Zambia

A short version of this article was published in The Land magazine’s summer edition 2015. A PDF of  the full version below can be downloaded here:Northern Governmental Organisations.

Northern Governmental Organisations: between the free market and the nation state

Samarendra Das and Miriam Rose

The NGO sector is one of the world’s largest industries. In 2009 there were 3.3 million NGOs (or 1 for every 400 people) in India alone,1 with money pouring in from Intergovernmental Organisations (IGOs), Western donor agencies and philanthropic funds.

Though some critiques of the big NGOs and humanitarian aid have reached the mainstream media in recent years, the general Western perception is that NGOs are doing important and effective work on behalf of millions of deprived people without a voice.

This article gives an alternative perspective. Based on conversations with grassroots activists and marginalised communities in India and Africa over many years of our work on extractive industries, we draw together the common critiques of advocacy and development NGOs in the ‘Third world’ or ‘global South’ – from their role in dividing and co-opting people’s movements by professionalising activism, to their lack of accountability to the people they claim to represent. We show that, behind the ‘rights based’ rhetoric, NGOs consciously or unconsciously serve the neoliberal interests of donor countries, institutions, and even companies.

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Prosperity or plunder?: The real story behind the global mining industry

modern technology: Australian iron ore being loaded onto ships

modern technology: Australian iron ore being loaded onto ships

12th August 2015.  This editorial on the ecological economics and social impacts of the global mining industry was published in the July/August edition of the socialist Hindi magazine Samayik Varta. Please click the link to read it in Hindi or download a PDF version of the article here: Prosperity or plunder? The real story behind the global mining industry

Prosperity or plunder?: The real story behind the global mining industry

Samarendra Das and Miriam Rose, Foil Vedanta

Foil Vedanta is a grassroots international solidarity group based in London. We aim to hold the FTSE 250 UK listed company Vedanta to account by building a global movement of communities opposing its operations, and using scholar activism to expose the real interests behind Vedanta and other mining companies. In 2014 our report Copper Colonialism: Vedanta KCM and the copper loot of Zambia, which followed our visit to Zambia, ignited protests and helped change Zambian mining policy.

A history of mining:

Scientists still don’t fully understand how the deposits of precious metal in the Earth’s surface were formed, but the most recent theory suggests that they were brought to the Earth by enormous meteors which smashed into the planet 200 million years after the earth formed (4.3 billion years ago).1 The earth’s crust is mostly made up of Oxygen (47%) and Silicon (28%), followed by Aluminium (8%) and Iron (5%). Other metals are much more rare; Copper makes up 0.01%, Zinc 0.004%, Lead 0.002%, Tin 0.001%, Thorium 0.001%, Uranium 0.0004%, Silver 0.00001% and Gold 0.000001%. Only a fraction of these percentages are to be found in densities which are economically viable to extract.

In other words, metals are a very rare and very precious resource on our planet, and are completely irreplaceable. However, in 2014, after only a century of industrial scale mining, the speed and scale of extraction of metals has become so immense that most metals are predicted to run out in the next few decades. For example between 1.1 and 1.3 billion tonnes of aluminium has been extracted historically (until 2014), and at the current extraction rate of 40 – 46 million tonnes per year the remaining 8 billion tonnes will be used up in 20 – 40 years.2

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Activist Academia Forum – Sussex University, 12 – 13 September

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.

Activist Academia forum poster picHosted by the Centre for World Environmental History (CWEH) University of Sussex.

Contact: actacdforum@sussex.ac.uk  or BOOK HERE

Places are limited. Please book as soon as you can. Last booking date is 1 September 2014.

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MPs hear evidence for de-listing Vedanta and other UK listed mining companies

 

Miriam Rose, Samarendra Das, John McDonnell MP and Richard Solly in the House of Commons

Miriam Rose, Samarendra Das, John McDonnell MP and Richard Solly in the House of Commons

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.

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Copper Colonialism report shakes Zambia

Picture 310th March 2014.  Over the past few weeks Foil Vedanta’s report Copper Colonialism: British Miner Vedanta KCM and the copper loot of Zambia has been creating national level debate in Zambia and even globally. Vedanta’s executives have now flown out to Zambia four times in the last month to try to minimise the reputational damage caused by the evidence presented in the report, including tax evasion, misdeclaring of profits, environmental devastation and abuses of worker’s rights. Following a series of closed door meetings the Government of Zambia has now made a deal with Vedanta which claims that they will not sack any workers and will pay off debts. The truth in this claim in yet to be seen but many other issues remain unaddressed. Primarily, Zambians must demand that the Annual Reports of KCM and the government’s investigation into the company are made public.

This is a compilation of some of the articles covering these issues in chronological order, with a few key excerpts from each one.

Copper gate scandal deepens

03 February 2014. Zambian Daily Nation

Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) has instituted investigations into a report by Foil Vedanta which shows that KCM made $360 million in the year 2013.

MUZ general secretary, Joseph Chewe confirmed having received the report which has since been given to the union technocrat team comprising director of research Charles Muchimba and his deputy Yoya Kumwenda.

The report contains various contentious issues such as how much KCM was bought by Foil Vedanta and how much it makes which the Zambian people do not know about.

The report also shows that KCM contaminated water supply in Helen and Shimulala communities which are located near KCM’s Nchanga mine in Chingola as well as the Mushishima stream which runs nearby.

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