South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Human rights campaigners will lobby the AGM of controversial mining firm Vedanta in London today over alleged ongoing abuses in the Indian state of Orissa.

Amnesty International has accused the British-registered company of attempting to “gloss over” criticisms of its poor human rights record in the east Indian state by publishing a “meaningless and hollow” report that puts forward the company’s own account of its operations there.

The charity claims that the Vedanta’s Perspective report is an attempt to calm investor fears as it seeks to expand its operations.

Amnesty has responded with its own briefing accusing the company of ignoring the reality of its impact on the human rights of local communities in Orissa.

The briefing reviewed Vedanta’s account against four criteria based on the United Nations Framework and Guiding Principles for businesses and found that it failed on all four.

Amnesty also claims that the firm hasn’t given locals important information such as about pollution caused by the company’s activities.

Those opposed to the company’s operations have been jailed on trumped-up charges, Amnesty says.

And it cites evidence uncovered during an ongoing inquiry by India’s national human rights commission showing that police have helped the firm through bringing false charges and suppressing dissent.

Amnesty deputy director Polly Truscott said Vedanta had done little good for Orissa locals.

“It refuses to consult properly with communities affected by its operations and ignores the rights of indigenous peoples.

“Vedanta may be making the right noises and have made a few changes, but the reality is that its new approach remains both meaningless and hollow.”

Sreedhar Ramamurthy, chairman of Indian NGO Mines, Minerals and People, said: “This is a company which has been violating corporate governance, financial, human rights, indigenous rights and environmental laws from the beginning.

“It uses tax havens to hide its ill-gotten profits. It has broken laws to open mines, broken laws to operate them and in Goa it is breaking laws as it closes them.

“From cradle to grave and across the range of violations it has become the embodiment of law-breaking.”

London Mining Network researcher Roger Moody said: “Vedanta’s annual report says that the company regrets six employee and 16 contractor ‘losses.’ It can’t even bring itself to acknowledge that these are lives sacrificed to its uncaring pursuit of profit. Vedanta is incorrigible.”

Vedanta yesterday stood by its own report.

Source: Morning Star Online – 28/08/2012 (