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'Church of England should stop Vedanta mining'

Last updated on: July 29, 2009 20:29 IST

Pressure is mounting on the Church of England, a stakeholder in the British mining giant Vedanta, to 'use its power' to stop it from exploiting bauxite in the mountains of Orrisa, considered sacred by the local tribals.

Tribal representative Sitaram Kulisika and ActionAid representative Meredith Alexander met the Church of England's ethical Investment Advisory Group on Tuesday to brief it on Vedanta Resources's plans and the devastating effect they would have on the tribals and their environment

Meredith Alexander said: "We asked the Church of England to use its power as a shareholder to make sure that the mine does not go ahead."

Human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger said: "I appeal to the shareholders to hold Vedanta accountable to make sure it adheres to social, corporate and ethical responsibilities."

The campaigners received support from actor Joanna Lumley, visiting Nepal after her successful campaign on behalf of the Gurkhas.  She said: "It greatly disturbs me that a British company will be responsible for the destruction of these wonderful people.  I urge the public to support the Dongri a, who simply want to be allowed to live in peace.

"Unlike so many of India's rural poor, the Dongria Kondh actually live very well in the Niyamgiri hills and it's a terrible irony that what Vedanta is proposing to do in the name of 'development' will actually destroy this completely self-sufficient people."

The company, however, said "we are proceeding with the project on the basis agreed with them (tribals and NGOs) and we urge these NGOs to respect the decision of the Supreme Court."

Booker prize winning author and campaigner Arundhati Roy on July 27 led a group of tribals in staging a protest at mining giant Vedanta's office here, demanding scraping of its mining plans in the bauxite-rich mountains of Nyamgiri in Orissa.

Owned by Indian billionaire Anil Aggarwala, Vedanta plans to build an open-pit mine for bauxite which the protesters said "threatened" the ecologically sensitive Nyamgiri mountains, considered sacred by Kondh tribals.

The Indian protesters were supported by followers of Church of England and other share holders including local councils of Britain.

H S Rao in London
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