Tribal Hindus' Sacred Land Threatened by Mining Operation - And the Church of England?

hindu mine church england india photo
Photo via Saving Iceland
The Church of England has an impressively progressive environmental policy. But it also owns a sizable stake in a company that's about to start mining the land out from under tribal Hindus in the Orissa region of India. The proposed bauxite mining set to take place there threatens to cause mass deforestation, cripple populations of endangered species, and displace the local people. Now, Hindu leaders and activists are calling on the Church of England to walk the talk.
From One India News:
[Rajan] Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, stressed that Church of England should practice what it preached. Its Environmental Policy stated: “The whole creation belongs to God. As human beings we are part of the whole and have a responsibility to love and care for what God has entrusted to us as temporary tenants of the planet. We are called to conserve its complex and fragile ecology, while recognising the need for responsible and sustainable development and the pursuit of social justice.”
A fair enough request. But what's the Church of England got to do with a bauxite mining operation in India anyhow? Well, it appears the Church has a couple million dollars invested in Vedanta, the mining company in question. And as we all know, it's hard to conserve our beloved earth's "complex and fragile" ecology whilst we mine the crap out of it. According to the BBC, "The Kondh tribe says the opening of the bauxite mine will destroy a large part of the Niyamgiri Mountain in the eastern Indian state of Orissa." And thus,
Zed also asked the Church Investors Group to investigate whether Church of England’s investment in this concerned multinational mining company (headquartered in London) met the “ethical principles and moral stance” set-up by CIG. The Church of England has reportedly about 4.1 million dollars stake in this mining company.
The environment's not the only thing at stake, either--the site where the mining is proposed is considered sacred by the tribal people who live there. The people stress they live traditional, sustainable lifestyles that would be disrupted if the mining were to commence. They've joined the calls of environmentalists, who've called for
a halt in this project, arguing that the area is ecologically sensitive and mining would result in displacement, deforestation, affecting water sources, wildlife and ecosystems destruction, water pollution, complicity in human rights violations, etc
Environmental activists, Bianca Jagger among them, are also appealing to the Church to help stop the mine from opening. Vedanta maintains that the mine is "socially and environmentally" sound.