Vedanta AGM disrupted by protests as Niyamgiri mine is lost

The protesters from Foil Vedanta and other organizations on Thursday held a loud carnival demonstration at the AGM of mining company Vedanta at the Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square in London. Sources said that a parallel demo was also held in Johannesburg.

Vedanta’s London AGM was again disrupted by protesters from Foil Vedanta and other organizations who raised a number of human rights concerns. Chanting and singing were continuous throughout the two-hour protest and could be heard inside the AGM. Protesters held placards painted with defiant anti-company quotes from the Dongria Kond tribe in Odisha, India, where the company has been trying to mine illegally for ten years and has now been stopped.

Another group performed street theatre holding a giant inflatable monster with Vedanta Resources painted on it, and snake-like heads bearing the names of Vedanta’s subsidiaries. Some Sri Lankan protesters played Parai drums (a Tamil drum of revolution) outside the Mayfair venue. Vedanta subsidiary Cairn India is drilling in the fragile Mannar basin off Sri Lanka. At the peak of the demo, protesters staged a sit-in and blocked the road using the inflatable monster. No arrests were made.

The protesters in London and India celebrated the victory of the Dongria Kond over Vedanta. In April the Supreme Court of India gave a precedent final verdict that the ultimate decision on the contentious Niyamgiri mine should be taken by village meetings (Palli sabhas) held on the mountain.

On Monday the majority vote was in, as the seventh of twelve meetings registered a unanimous no to the project. To date, eight Palli sabhas have been held and each one has unanimously voted against the project. Commentators are suggesting the mine will now be canceled, losing Vedanta a $7 billion investment.

Yesterday in Delhi almost a hundred people braved rains to raise their protest at Odisha Bhawan. Meanwhile, the majority of tribal village meetings given legal power by the Supreme Court of India have unanimously voted against Vedanta’s flagship Niyamgiri mine.