Mining giant slammed over sacred land
UK mining resources giant Vedanta was criticised today for planning to exploit an Indian forest held sacred by tribal people without their “informed consent,” following an appeal to Avatar’s director James Cameron for help.
Amnesty International attacked Vedanta’s plans to mine vast deposits of bauxite in the Niyamgiri Hills of eastern India without consulting the 8,000-strong Dongria Kondh tribe, who worship the land.
The tribe believes the lush hills are the home of its god Niyam Raja and they depend on the land for their crops and livelihood.
Their plight chimes with the tribe in Cameron’s hit movie Avatar, who seek to stop humans from mining under their sacred “home tree.”
Survival International, a group which campaigns on behalf of indigenous people, appealed Monday to Cameron to help stop the mine going ahead in an advertisement in US entertainment magazine Variety.
The opencast mine planned by India-focused Vedanta is intended to feed a nearby $US900 million ($1,030.77 million) alumina refinery already built by the company in the mineral-rich Orissa state.
Amnesty also said in a report the refinery, which is being fed with bauxite from other Indian states, is already causing air and water pollution that “threatens the health of local people.”