By Susie Price
Last Wednesday (28 July), I joined about 75 other demonstrators to protest against Vedanta’s activities in Kalahandi and the devastating effect their activities are having on the lives and livelihoods of the indigenous tribes who live near their bauxite mine in Lanjigargh. Having just returned to the UK after spending two years working for an NGO called Antodaya in Bhawanipatna it was one way I thought I could continue my connection with the District. The demonstration took place outside Vedanta’s annual general meeting which was held in a building close to the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London and participants included campaigners from ActionAid, Survival International and Amnesty International, a number of smaller UK-based organisations who have been campaigning against Vedanta as well as individuals including Bianca Jagger (a human rights campaigner who is the ex-wife of the iconic British rock-star Mick Jagger). Michael Palin (a UK comedian and travel writer) has also voiced his support for the campaign. The demonstration was organised to maintain pressure on Vedanta and its shareholders with regards to the plight of the Kondh tribal people based in and around the Niyamgiri hills and the demonstration was covered in the UK media including Channel 4 news, Reuters, the Guardian and the Financial Times. One of the aims of the campaign is put pressure on Vedanta to clean up their ac by persuadinge major shareholders to sell their investments in the UK-listed company. Institutional investors who have already done so include the Norwegian Pension Fund, the Church of England, the Joseph Rowntree Trust and PGGM. In addition institutional-shareholder, Aviva (the largest UK insurance group) voted against three resolutions at Vedanta's meeting on Wednesday to show its concern over the bauxite mining project and the lack of environmental reporting. As an ex-resident of Kalahandi it was heartening to see such support from UK organisations and individuals.