Amnesty launches online petition campaign against Vedanta

Amnesty launches online petition campaign against Vedanta

Once complete, the petition would be handed over to the company during the shareholders' annual general meeting (AGM) in London on July 28.

"We want to collect as many signatures as possible to represent the thousands of people affected by the plans before Vedanta's AGM (annual general meeting of shareholders) on July 28, when we'll hand in the petition," Amnesty said.

Amnesty had released a report in February, wherein it alleged that Vedanta's Lanjigarh project in Orissa had affected the indigenous communities there and led to violations of human rights. However, the Anil Agarwal-led firm had slammed the charges and said they were based on outdated documents.

The company had said at the time that "Vedanta has repeatedly offered engagement, including joint verification of allegations in eight villages and dialogue on every aspect of the Amnesty report. But this offer of direct engagement has been rejected."

The report alleged that Vedanta had failed to protect Orissa's indigenous communities from the health hazards of mining.

In recent months, the mining major had repeatedly come under the watch of global human rights groups.

In February, the Church of England had sold its equity, worth 3.8 million pounds, in Vedanta Resources after the group's alumina refinery at Lanjigarh and planned bauxite mine at the nearby Niyamgiri Hills in Orissa came to the Church's ethical investment advisory group's attention.

In its latest petition titled 'Mine threat to indigenous community', which is being circulated through emails and over the Internet, Amnesty said that the lives and livelihoods of the local people are already blighted by an alumina refinery in "one of the poorest areas of the Indian state of Orissa".

"Now, they are under threat from plans to expand the refinery to six times its current capacity, and open a new bauxite mine in the Niyamgiri hills nearby. The company behind the proposals is Vedanta Resources –- run by London-based billionaire Anil Agarwal. Vedanta has failed to properly consult local people about its plans," wrote Malavika Vartak, Amnesty's Poverty and Human Rights Coordinator.

Amnesty alleged that Vedanta's mine would "destroy the traditional lands of the Dongria Kondh, an indigenous community. They live in fear of losing their sources of water, their livelihoods, their sacred hills and their very way of life –- so that others can profit. Outrageous."

Noting that local people were doing all they can to campaign against Vedanta's plans, Amnesty sought public support for "their efforts to protect their land and health by signing our petition, and urging everyone you know to do the same."

Sterlite, a group company of Vedanta Resources, has been listed in India as well as the US.

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