Vedanta to press ahead with mining plans in face of protests

Anil AgarwalBritish mining giant Vedanta said it would go ahead with plans to mine a bauxite-rich hillside in Orissa, which tribals living in the region consider sacred. The company asked the two international NGOs to end their protest campaign as the concerns they have been raising have been addressed and the Supreme Court of the world's largest democracy has greenlighted the project.

According to a Vedanta Resources spokeswoman, the company was proceeding with the mining plans but a few permissions needed be obtained. She was speaking after a high-profile protest during the annual general meeting of shareholders in London yesterday (See: Activists protest Vedanta's Orissa project during London AGM)

The protest was led by international human rights activist Bianca Jagger and Indian-origin musician Nitin Sawhney. Celebrated Indian author Arundhati Roy who has also opposed the project, was however unable to attend.

The Kondh tribals oppose the project as they believe the Nyamgiri is the abode of their deity Nyam Raja but Vedanta says the project would create jobs and develop the region leading to greater prosperity.

Vedanta said it also shared the concerns that have been raised by some of its shareholders about campaigns of two non-government organisations, AcionAid and Survival.

"The Supreme Court, in its decision to approve the project has taken account of their views and the many benefits in terms of employment, education and healthcare, that the project will bring," the company said in a statement.