Orissa, India: tribe forms human chain to keep British company off sacred mountain 29 January 2009


Hundreds of members of the "Dongria Kondh":/tribes/dongria tribe, together with many tribal and non-tribal allies, formed a human chain at the base of their sacred Niyamgiri mountain on 27 January to prevent British mining giant Vedanta from bulldozing it.
Some reports put the number of people taking part in the protest at over 10,000. Placards carried by the protesters bore slogans including 'Vedanta, go back' and 'Stop mining in Niyamgiri'.

It was the second large-scale demonstration in ten days: on 17 January up to 7,000 protesters marched to the gates of Vedanta's aluminium refinery in the nearby town of Lanjigarh. Earlier in the month Vedanta attempted to enter the light under the cover of night but local activists mounted an emergency blockade to prevent them.

Vedanta plans to dig an open pit mine on the top of Niyamgiri to extract the aluminium ore bauxite. India’s Supreme Court gave the mine so-called 'forest clearance' in August last year. However, the mine is yet to get 'environmental clearance'. Nevertheless the company is already trying to build roads for the mine. Road blocks by the Dongria and other Kondh tribes have so far kept construction vehicles off the mountain.

Vedanta’s chairman Anil Agarwal recently told journalists that mining will begin in ‘a month or two’.
War Resisters' international is inviting activists from the anti-mining campaign in Orissa to attend its conference on Livelihood Struggles and Nonviolent Resistance to Global Militarization to be held in Ahmedabad in January 2010.

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