Battle for bauxite mimics sci-fi film

LANJIGARH, India: As Hollywood rolled out the red carpet for the Oscars, a world away in remote eastern India, activists say the story of the blockbuster sci-fi film Avatar is being played out.
Avatar tells the story of the Na'vi, a mythical clan that are threatened by a mining corporation that wants to exploit a store of mineral deposits.
In India's impoverished but mineral-rich state of Orissa, hundreds of indigenous tribespeople are battling to stop London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc from extracting bauxite from their sacred mountain.
"Like the Na'vi of Avatar, the Dongria Kondh tribe are also at risk," said Stephen Corry, director of the British charity, Survival International.
Vedanta says its mine would not violate tribespeoples' rights, because it follows various protocols.
Mukesh Kumar, CEO of Vedanta's alumina refinery, says: "It is a myth that people don't want development. The tribals want their children to go to school and have enough to eat."
The tussle in the lush mountain forests of Niyamgiri between the Dongria Kondh people and Vedanta highlights a broader standoff between industry and villagers and tribesmen in India's mineral belt.
Steel companies are facing resistance from establishing plants, not only from villagers and tribes, but from Maoist insurgents who for decades have been waging a war against industrialisation.
Companies and the federal government argue that in a country where around 40 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, exploiting lucrative deposits of minerals such as iron ore, bauxite, coal and manganese is the only answer.