Britain criticizes mining project on sacred mountain in India

The British government openly criticised mining company Vedanta Resources today over its treatment of local tribes in a sacred mountain area of India where it plans to open a bauxite mine.

In an unprecedented attack on a FTSE 100 company, the government ruled that Vedanta "did not respect the rights" of the area's indigenous people; "did not consider the impact of the construction of the mine on the [tribe's] rights"; and "failed to put in place an adequate and timely consultation mechanism". The report concluded that a change in the company's behaviour' was "essential".

Vedanta plans an open-cast mine on Niyamgiri mountain in the eastern state of Orissa. Activists believe the mine will destroy the area's ecosystem and threaten the future of the 8,000-strong Dongria Kondh tribe, who depend on the hills for their crops, water and livelihood. They hold it and the surrounding forest as the sacred home of their god Niyam Raja.

The damning verdict came after a nine- month investigation into a complaint submitted by charity Survival International against Vedanta's plans. The complaint was dealt with by a governmental agency charged with promoting guidelines on ethical corporate behaviour for multinational companies adopted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

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