Bianca Jagger to deliver 30,000 -name Amnesty petition to FTSE 100 company London AGM urging end to human rights abuses

Bianca Jagger will deliver an Amnesty International petition signed by over 30,000 people to the London AGM of FTSE 100-listed company Vedanta Resources on Wednesday 28 July, urging the company to halt a planned mine and refinery expansion that threatens the human rights of local communities in Orissa, India.

The petition adds yet more voices to a chorus of criticism of Vedanta’s governance and ethical standards. Last week responsible investment research specialists EIRIS published recommendations to address investors' concerns about Vedanta’s environmental, social and governance practices. Dutch pension manager PGGM divested their £11m stake in the company earlier this month.

Vedanta Resources, through its subsidiary companies, plans to mine for bauxite in the Niyamgiri Hills, considered sacred by the indigenous Dongria Kondh community. The proposed mine may also threaten the community’s rights to water, food, health and work. Final permission for the projects is pending with the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests, whose expert panel is due to report their findings shortly.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“Tens of thousands of people share our concern at Vedanta’s continuing attempts to open a mine that could destroy the Dongria Kondh’s entire way of life. These indigenous communities have not been properly consulted about the plans and Vedanta seems determined to send the diggers in regardless of the impact on people’s lives.

“It’s encouraging to see that investors are also starting to take notice: Dutch asset managers PGGM recently sold their holding, following divestment by the Church of England and the Joseph Rowntree Trust earlier this year.

“Vedanta has been trying to gain approval to mine these hills for several years and each day’s delay costs them more money. Maybe investors are starting to realise that bad governance and bad impacts on local people can also be bad for business.”

Bianca Jagger said:

“I appeal to investors – including local UK councils who still hold shares in Vedanta - to listen to the voices of the Dongria Kondh and consider the human rights consequences of the proposed mine. I will continue to campaign in support of the Dongria Kondh until their demands are heard.”

The Amnesty International petition calls on Vedanta resources to:
-halt mining plans and related activities in the Niyamgiri Hills until the Dongria Kondh provide free prior and informed consent to the project;

-halt refinery expansion until full, impartial and adequate assessments of the human rights implications of the proposed projects are carried out in genuine consultation with the affected communities; and
-address existing human rights abuses linked to the Lanjigarh refinery.
 
Local communities in nearby Lanjigarh, whose farmlands were acquired for Vedanta’s alumina refinery in 2003, are struggling to protect their livelihoods. They told Amnesty researchers that contamination of their water sources and dust emissions pose serious risks to their health. Vedanta has ignored these risks and is now planning a six-fold expansion of its alumina refinery.

Vedanta has failed to provide full information and to adequately consult with local communities about its mining and refinery-expansion plans.

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