Sunday, July 27, 2008

Asarco buyer Vedanta in India controversy

Politician's have been lining up for and against Vedanta Resources, the parent of Sterlite Industries, over the companies bid to buy Asarco from bankruptcy court. Opponents are raising questions about Sterlite's environmental credentials. It appears that one of the biggest reasons for this is Vedanta's plans to open a bauxite mine in the remote mountainous region of Orissa in India, inhabited by the 8,000 member Dongria Kondh tribe. The UK Telegraph describes the Kondh as one of the most isolated tribes, that believes in witch doctors and animal sacrifices, and opposes the project.

The government of Orissa originally planned the mining project and awarded the mining contract to Vedanta. Vedanta saya they have "already built schools, roads, a medical centre and a hospital in the region, and taught farmers how to increase their yields" and "also pledged to bring health care, sanitation and education to an area where many die of preventable diseases, and where tribe members have in the past sold their babies to buy food."

The battle is attracting international attention and may be a (the?) source of the environmental challenges in the U.S. Stories I've read indicate the Orissa state government is widely viewed as hopelessly corrupt so that no matter what Vedanta may do, the benefits will not get to local citizens and especially to the Kondh people.

Vedanta argues that the area involved is a tiny fraction of the Kondh's traditional lands, and will be returned to its natural condition once the mining is over.

No comments:

Post a Comment