Thursday, November 5, 2009

Who will be our vedanta?

Raja Maghi, his wife Bari Maghi, and son Laki
Photograph: Gethin Chamberlain

Mining companies - they come and they mine - that is what they do and they don't care about indigenous people or the environment - not when they get in the way of making money.
Lets look at an overseas example - vedanta
"Vedanta plans an open-cast mine on Niyamgiri mountain in the eastern state of Orissa. Activists believe the mine will destroy the area's ecosystem and threaten the future of the 8,000-strong Dongria Kondh tribe, who depend on the hills for their crops, water and livelihood. They hold it and the surrounding forest as the sacred home of their god Niyam Raja."
This report shows the truth
"The British government openly criticised mining company Vedanta Resources over its treatment of local tribes in a sacred mountain area of India where it plans to open a bauxite mine.

In an unprecedented attack on a FTSE 100 company, the government ruled that Vedanta "did not respect the rights" of the area's indigenous people; "did not consider the impact of the construction of the mine on the [tribe's] rights"; and "failed to put in place an adequate and timely consultation mechanism". The report concluded that a change in the company's behaviour' was "essential"."
Who is vedanta?
"Controlled by billionaire Anil Agarwal, Vedanta Resources is India's largest copper mining firm and a major aluminium and iron ore producer. Most of its assets are in India, although it also has copper operations in Australia and Zambia. Through Vedanta, Agarwal has become one of India's richest men."

The ruling (outlined above) is the third major embarrassment in five months for Anil Agarwal, Vedanta's founder and executive chairman. In June an environmental award was withheld at the last minute when details of the Orissa mine were brought to the jury's attention and in August India's environment minister admitted that the project should never have been approved."
There is widespread opposition to this mine.

"They (British Government) are not the only ones that have been highly critical of Vedanta with Norway's sovereign wealth fund ejecting the mining group from its list of approved investments on the basis of a poor reputation on the environment and human rights.

What is the ecosystem like there?
"Niyamgiri Hills, named after the Niyamraja, the main deity of the Donagria Kondhs, are one of last untouched wildernesses of Orissa. Rising to a height of more than four thousand feet, it is the source of Vamshadhara river as well as major tributaries of Nagavali rivers. Niyamgiris form a distinct phytogeographical zone because of its height and its highly precipitous topography . It has some of the most pristine forests in Orissa. Niyamgiri flora is of ‘great phyto-geographical importance’ as the hilltops harbor high altitude plants with Himalayan/North Indian and Nilgiri/South elatives of crop plants such as sugarcane (protected under the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources.
Niyamgiri hills are home to a number of vulnerable wildlife species including tiger, leopards, elephant, sloth bear, pangolin, palm civet, giant squirrel, mouse deer and sambhar, etc, most of which are in the IUCN red list of endangered species. It is also a part of migration corridor of elephants between forests of Kondhmals and of Kalahandi/Koraput. Niyamgiri hills are also home for rare birds like Hill Myna and Hornbill and are one of the few habitats in Orissa for the King Cobra. Recently, the Golden Gecko has been discovered for the first time in Orissa from the Niyamgiri hill which happens to be the only known habitat in the state."
This video tells the story - Mine - the story of a sacred mountain

Mining companies - well they have pretty clear objectives and that is to mine.

How does this story intersect with us here, in the South Seas? What would happen if they discovered, during their survey that gold was found under Aoraki? Do you think they wouldn't mine our sacred mountain? What about Taranaki?, Mitre Peak?

Don't be under any illusions - if they think they can - they will! And who will stop them?

Hat tip - Go here to take action Survival International
The Dongria Kondh's story so far:

2002 - Vedanta reveals plans to mine and process aluminium ore from the Niyamgiri Hills.
2005 - A village of a neighbouring Kondh tribe in the Niyamgiri foothills is bulldozed to make way for the refinery.
2005 - Sukra Majhi, a leading campaigner against the mine, dies in suspicious circumstances on a road near the refinery.
2007 - India's Supreme Court denies Vedanta permission to mine Niyamgiri, but invites its subsidiary, Sterlite, to apply for a licence.
2008 - The Dongria Kondh stage regular large-scale protests against the mine.

Critics claim Vedanta promised not to go ahead with the scheme if the local people objected but even though there have been protests, Vedanta is proceeding.


feddabonn said...

the attack on niyamgiri is part of the larger indian war on the indigenous, mostly in the name of 'development'. gives a bit of a background.

Marty Mars said...

Thanks feddabonn I followed the link and was shocked by what i discovered. Operation Green Hunt - bloody hell on earth!
The MOU's across the country - the destruction and death they want to bring is heartbreaking.
That these mining companies want war to drive the indigenous people away (to graves) and take the minerals to make more money disgusts me.
I am going to keep posting on the struggles that indigenous people are facing in India. Their voices will be heard and not forgotten or lost in the noise.

charlotte said...

Good that you're posting on this Marty. The mining issue is bubbling away here Aoteroa. Keep up the good work.