Vedanta faces protests at AGM over ethical record

The environmental and human rights record of the miner Vedanta Resources will be put under the spotlight during its annual meeting next week, when the India-based group will face protests from pressure groups and an attempt by activist shareholders to remove members of the board.

Vedanta, the world's biggest zinc producer, declined to comment yesterday on reports that the shareholder lobby group Pirc will propose the removal of Naresh Chandra, a non-executive director who chairs the London-listed group's health, safety and environment committee and its remuneration committee. Mr Chandra, a former Indian home secretary and ambassador to the United States, joined Vedanta's board in 2004. He was not available for comment yesterday.

Pirc, which also called on shareholders not to back the re-election of directors Euan McDonald and Aman Mehta, said: "The failure of the group to engage with explicit investor-led [environmental, social and governance] concerns over the impact of group activities... [is] evidence of a lack of competent oversight, in our view."

Vedanta has consistently been attacked by a range of groups. Human rights and environmental organisations have criticised the company for its bauxite project in the Niyamgiri hills of eastern India's Orissa state. The local Dongria Kondh tribe argues that if the Indian government gives Vendanta's proposed mine a green light, their way of life will be lost. Pressure groups also complain that the project will be an environmental disaster.

Last year, the company's safety record was widely condemned after more than 100 workers were killed when a chimney collapsed at an aluminium plant in central India in which Vedanta has a 51 per cent stake through its subsidiary, Sterlite Industries. Vedanta had said the plant benefited from a "relatively low cost of operations and large and inexpensive labour and talent pools".

Some of the company's biggest institutional investors, including Wellington Management Company and Standard Life Investments, refused to comment yesterday.

A clutch of non-corporate investors have sold their Vedanta shares in recent years, including the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Church of England and the Norwegian state pension fund. All blamed the company's ethical record. According to one analyst, the company "couldn't care less" about its reputation. However, in recent months, Vedanta has tried to reassure potential investors. Earlier this month, it published a 56-page document to accompany its annual report, which sought to highlight its social and environmental work.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific