Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Protest against Vedanta over India mine project

Amnesty International and Survival International led a protest of Vedanta shareholders, against a bauxite mine in India on Dongria Kondh lands

India-focused Vedanta Resources would face protests at its shareholders’ meeting on Wednesday from investors and pressure groups over its plans to establish a bauxite mine in an area sacred to indigenous people.

Pressure groups have long opposed a planned mine in India’s eastern Orissa state, but the sympathetic move by major asset manager Aviva Investors (part of insurer Aviva Plc) marks a more activist stance by institutional investors on social issues.

Aviva said it had organised a meeting on Friday of investors which in total hold around 5 percent of Vedanta shares with human rights group Amnesty International.

In order to show its concern over the Bauxite mining project and other issues with the company, Aviva said it plans to vote against three resolutions at Vedanta’s meeting on Wednesday, regarding the annual report and accounts, the remuneration report and the reappointment of the board member who chairs the health, safety and environment committee.

Vedanta shareholders will also confront more colourful protests as they enter the meeting, including two people made up as indigenous people from the hit film Avatar, which chronicles how a futuristic mining company threatens the existence of the Na’vi people.

A report on Vedanta submitted to the environment ministry in March said the company was violating environmental guidelines and had not taken adequate consideration of the impact on the Dongria Kondh people.

Meanwhile, Vedanta said that the mine in the Niyamgiri mountain forests, beneath which lie 78 million tonnes of bauxite, will not violate the rights of local tribes and the company is also funding schools, clinics and income-generation projects in the area.

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