India: harassment and delaying tactics increasing after Orissa Mining court decision
The Dongria Khondh indigenous community of Orissa, in eastern India is still in danger of losing their ancestral land and the mountain that is sacred to them in spite of the Indian Supreme Court ruling in April.
The ruling gave village councils the final decision on the plans for the bauxite mine. But the Orissa state government, appears to delaying holding the village councils and trying to prevent all villages from being consulted.
There have been reports that village leaders are facing increased harassment by state police and several have been arrested and the pressure will undoubtedly increase in the next few months.
The mining project is to be jointly operated by Orissa Mining Corporation and a subsidiary of the UK-registered Vedanta Resources. The Orissa government own the Orissa Mining Corporation, which may explains their attitude to the consultation process. Anil Agarwal, an Indian billionaire who lives in London, owns most of Vedanta. The Vedanta shareholders’ meeting is to be held in London on 2nd August. This may be a good opportunity to draw shareholders attention to the issues.
“The hill is our god and the earth our goddess. Between the two, we have the rains and water. Those wanting to mine here will slowly take over all this. Where will we go then?”
A Dongria Kondh man from Lakpaddar, Niyamgiri Hills
Arundati Roy in the 2009: “The low, flat-topped hills of south Orissa have been home to the Dongria Kondh long before there was a country called India or a state called Orissa. The hills watched over the Kondh. The Kondh watched over the hills and worshipped them as living deities. Now these hills have been sold for the bauxite they contain. For the Kondh it's as though god had been sold. They ask how much god would go for if the god were Ram or Allah or Jesus Christ.”
Survival International has investigated the methods Vedanta has used in the past to undermine the consultation process – you can see one of their films here.
If the Dongria Khondh lose their land they lose everything. The Supreme Court decision does not end the need to support them; in fact it increases the urgency because they are now under considerable pressure.
Please take a few minutes to send them a message of solidarity to show them the level of support they have outside India. All the details of where to post your message are in the action circular below.
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