UK agency slams Vedanta's Orissa bauxite mine

A British government agency has strongly criticised mining and metals company Vedanta Resources for ignoring the interests of local dwellers while ripping apart prime forest land for its bauxite mine in the remote Niyamgiri Hills district of Orissa.

Anil Agarwal, Vedanta CEO"Vedanta failed to put in place an adequate and timely consultation mechanism to fully engage the Dongria Kondh, an indigenous community who would be directly affected by the environmental and health and safety impact of its plans,'' according to the UK National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

"Vedanta did not respect the rights and freedoms of the Dongria Kondh consistent with India's commitments under various international human rights instruments," a statement from the agency said, upholding allegations earlier made by NGO Survival International.

Vedanta said it completely disagrees with the report. "The project has been cleared by the Supreme Court of India and by regulatory authorities after seeing all aspects in totality," the company said.

Run by the abrasive Anil Agarwal, Vedanta is a member of the UK blue chip FTSE-100 index, but has no operations in Britain. It produces metals like zinc, copper and iron ore in India, Zambia and Australia.

Most of its operations are in India under group company Sterlite Industries, which is constantly running into local opposition as it ignores social and environmental concerns. The company has formed a practice of going through the courts to get its way.