Since 2004, ActionAid has been campaigning alongside tribal people to prevent a FTSE 100 mining company mining a sacred Indian site.
Now our worst fears look set to happen. At 3am this morning, under cover of darkness, Vedanta Resources began moving heavy construction vehicles to the top of Niyamgiri Mountain in India to begin clearing the ground for mining bauxite, a raw form of aluminium.
Vedanta was only stopped because of a blockade by the tribal people who live on the mountain. They refused to budge despite the police being called in and threats of imprisonment.
For generations, the Kondha tribal people have lived a self-sufficient life in the lush forests of Niyamgiri, a mountainous region in the state of Orissa. Their distinctive culture and lifestyle makes them some of world’s most vulnerable indigenous tribal groups. Their very existence is now under serious threat because of this mining project.
‘If we leave Niyamgiri then we will die … if we lose Niyamgiri, the forest, where will we go?’ said a member of the Kutia Kondh tribe (name withheld), Niyamgiri.
India’s Supreme Court has approved Vedanta’s plans, but the mine is yet to receive the environmental clearance required for it to go ahead. The Chairman of Vedanta, Anil Agarwal, released a statement this weekend claiming that the mining in Orissa ‘is in progress and will start within a month or two.’
ActionAid condemns the corporate greed that could cause the destruction of one of India’s last pristine forests, the pollution of the water systems and leave thousands of people with no choice but to leave their ancestral lands.
We will continue to stand alongside the Kondha people and support their struggle to attain their basic human rights.