MAC: Mines and Communities

Tribals Protest Refinery Plans In Eastern India

Published by MAC on 2007-04-25
Source: Reuters

Tribals protest refinery plans in eastern India

25th April 2007

BHUBANESWAR, India, April 25 (Reuters) - Thousands of tribal men and women armed with bows and arrows marched in eastern India on Wednesday to protest against an alumina refinery owned by Britain's Vedanta Resources Plc, police said.

Dongria Kondh tribals vowed to stop Vedanta starting the refinery in the mineral-rich Lanjigarh area of Orissa state, about 475 km (300 miles) southwest of the state capital Bhubaneswar.

Large bauxite deposits had lured the company to this remote and impoverished corner of Orissa, where they have already built the $900 million alumina refinery.

At issue is Vedanta's plan to turn the top of the nearby Niyamgiri mountain into open-cast mines. Tribals say the project will rob them of their homes.

"Niyamgiri or no Niyamgiri, Vedanta go back," shouted several tribal men, wearing colourful headgear as they prepared to wage mock battle with spears and arrows.

"We want development and not disaster," the women chanted.

Vedanta officials have said they would go ahead with the company's plans.

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