Church of England divests Vedanta investments on human rights concerns

The Church of England has sold all its shares worth £3.8 million in British mining company, Vedanta Resources Plc due to concerns over the miners human rights record in Orissa.

The parish church of St. Lawrence at Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, England.
London-based based Vedanta Resources, a FTSE 100 company, runs an alumina refinery in Lanjigarh and plans to mine bauxite in the Niyamgiri hills in Orissa, which is a sacred hill to the Kondh tribe having lived there in harmony for generations.

Activists allege that the bauxite mine to be operated by Vedanta's Indian subsidiary Sterlite Industries, will destroy a large part of the Niyamgiri Mountain and its environs and displace the Kondh tribe from their habitat.

Concerned over the allegations, the Church of England said yesterday that the Church Commissioners and the Church of England Pensions Board have sold their shares in Vedanta on the advice of the Church's Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG).

As a result, none of the three national investing bodies of the Church of England hold shares in the company.

Following demonstrations against Vedanta outside its headquarters in London in July by activists during the company's annual general meeting (See: Activists protest Vedanta's Orissa project during London AGM), the Church of England had sent a representative in November to look into the claims of violation and complete disregard of the community's will by the company.