Vedanta attacked over planned mine in India

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The Independent Online

The Government has strongly criticised the controversial FTSE100-listed mining group Vedanta Resources, saying that it had failed to do enough to consult with indigenous people over a proposed bauxite mine in India

Vedanta's plans to develop a site in the state of Orissa failed to include plans for adequate and timely consultation with Dongria Kondh, an indigenous people in the area who believe mountains that Vedanta plan to excavate are sacred.

"Vedanta failed to put in place an adequate and timely consultation mechanism fully to engage the Dongria Kondh, an indigenous community who would be directly affected by the environmental and health and safety impact of its plans to construct a bauxite mine in the Niyamgiri Hills, Orissa," the UK National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises said in a statement. The agency is part of the department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The findings uphold a complaint from Survival International, which has long complained that Vedanta has ignored the religious, as well as health and environmental concerns of the Dongria Kondh.

Vedanta, which is awaiting permits from the Indian government before commencing mining operations in Orissa, last week it said it expected final approval by March and to begin operations soon after. The company did not immediately comment yesterday, but in the past has said it operates in accordance with international standards.

Last month, an accident at another its sites in India claimed more than 100 lives and in 2007, the Norwegian state pension fund sold its shares in the company, saying that being an investor would present an "unacceptable risk of contributing to severe environmental damage and serious or systematic violations of human rights."