Orissa tribal buys company shares to protest project

ALL FOR A CAUSE: Activists gather to protest Vedanta Resources

London: A long standing environment battle between an Indian corporate and Orissa tribals is now being carried to the streets of London.

An agitating tribal has come up with a unique strategy. He has bought a share in the company to appeal to the shareholders to not cut down acres of rich tropical forest in his state.

Sitaram Kuliski of the Dongria Kondh tribe, who lives on the foothills of the Niyamgiri mountains in Orissa, is protesting Vedanta Resources' proposed bauxite mining project in the Niyamgiri mountains.

Sitaram Kuliski says, “Thousands of my brothers and sisters have sent me here to appeal to Vedanta. I have come to ask shareholders and others help us to stop mining at Niyamgiri and to save our community from being destroyed.”

Environmentalists say the mine will destroy the area's ecosystem and threaten the future of the 8,000 strong Kondh tribe, for whom the Niyamgiri is 'sacred'.

Celebrity activist Bianca Jagger and singer Nitin Sawhney too have lent their support to the tribals cause.

Activist, Bianca Jagger says, “I firmly believe it’s important that corporations adhere to social and ethical values. We shareholders can make them understand that their projects should not endanger lives of indigenous people and not go against the environment and not contribute to climate change.”

On its part, Vedanta says it's bringing development to a backward region.

CEO, Vedanta Resources, M S Mehta says, “People are with us. They want this project to come up. They want this, for heath conditions. We don't see opposition.”

Vedanta says it has complied with the 32 conditions of the Supreme Court. In addition, its has also deposited crores of rupees with the Orissa government for compensatory forestry and peripheral development. The company is awaiting stage 2 forest clearance and plans to start mining as soon as possible. But one consent it may never get is that of the local tribals who have brought their protest from home to London.