Niyamgiri-Vedanta Bauxite Mining, India

Adivasi communities in Orissa push back one of the world mining giants in an historical struggle. In 2017, Prafulla Samantara, one of the social activists in the area and born in a family of farmers, was granted the Goldman Environmental Prize


Description

In 2003, Vedanta Resources, a UK-based mining company signed an MoU with the Government of Orissa (GoO) to construct a 1 MTPA alumina refinery and coal thermal plant (75 MW – half a million TPA of coal) at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district. In September 2004, The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) gave environmental clearance to the company on the basis of the company’s assertion that it would not divert forestland. The alumina refinery project will require 3 million tones per annum bauxite which is proposed to be sourced from the nearby Niyamgiri hills, sacred to the local indigenous tribe the Dongria Kondh.

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Basic Data
NameNiyamgiri-Vedanta Bauxite Mining, India
CountryIndia
ProvinceOrissa
SiteLanjigarh, Kalahandi District
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Mineral ore exploration
Deforestation
Tailings from mines
Water access rights and entitlements
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific CommoditiesAluminum/Bauxite
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsOne million tonnes of alumina produced three million tonnes of bauxite two million tonnes per annum red mud total bauxite reserves of 73 million tons
Project Area (in hectares)235000
Level of Investment (in USD)10,000,000,000 [1]
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population10000
Start Date2003
Company Names or State EnterprisesVedanta from United Kingdom
Relevant government actorsOrissa Mining Corporation, Ministry of Environmental Affairs , Orissa Government, Forest Department
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersEnvironmental Protection Group Orissa, Action Aid, UK, Amnesty International, Survival International, Mining Watch, Foil Vedanta, Indian Groups, EPG Orissa, Niyamgiri Vedanta Nagar(Rehabilitation Colony), Lanjigarh Anchalika Bikash Parishad, Nabin Vikash Trust, Lanjigarh Unnayan Anchalika Samiti, Alumina Refinery Labour Union, Niyamgiri Adivasi Vikash Parishad, Shakti Organisation, Kui Bikash Parishad
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Women
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Adivasis, Dongria Kondh, Kutia Kondh
Forms of MobilizationThreats to use arms
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Shareholder/financial activism.
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Media based activism/alternative media
Boycotts of companies-products
Official complaint letters and petitions
Blockades
Referendum other local consultations
Development of a network/collective action
Appeal to religion (Niyamgiri Hill is a god in the Dongris Kondhs pantheon)
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents
Potential: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Specific impacts on women
Outcome
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseApplication of existing regulations
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
New legislation
Violent targeting of activists
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Corruption
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Repression
Project cancelled
There was a long process of litigation for 10 years. There was support from international actors against Vedanta in London. Legislation protecting forest of adivasi groups has been applied.
A precedent was set for the first environmental referendum to decide a mining project in India.
Development of AlternativesThe proposal is to leave the Niyamgiri hills undisturbed. The sacredness argument was decisive in the end.
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.While the refinery in Lanjigarh has been built, it depends on bauxite brought by train and truck from far away.

Vedanta Ltd has been unable to get final permission for mining bauxite from the Niyamgiri Hills. The Supreme Court of India asked in April 2013 for public consultations in villages and hamlets in the Niyamgiri hills. Unanimous rejection was recorded in July and August 2013.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

Right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion (article 25 of the constitution)

Right of tribals to equality and equal protection under the law (Article 14 of the constitution).

Right to live in dignity (Article 21 of the constitution).

Right to life and existence.

Recognition of Forest Rights Act Section 2a regarding Scheduled Tribes and other forest dwellers.

Forest Conservation Act, 1980, and Forest Protection Act (tribal peoples)

UN Declaration of the rights of Indigenous Peoples, Article 2: right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while retaining their right

References

Geetanjoy, S. Mining in the Niyamgiri Hills and Tribal Rights. Economic & Political Weekly. April 12, 2008

Rosencranz, A., Lélé, S., 2008. Supreme Court and India’s Forests. Economic and Political Weekly. Feb. 2, 2008

Temper, Leah & Joan Martinez-Alier. The God of the Mountain and the Godavaram Case: Net Present Value, indigenous territorial rights and sacredness in one bauxite mining conflict in India. Ecological Economics.
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Kashipur Solidarity

CEC Report on Lanjigadh

REPORT IN IA NO. 1324 REGARDING THE ALUMINA REFINERY PLANT BEING SET UP BY M/S VEDANTA ALUMINA LIMITED AT LANJIGARH IN KALAHANDI DISTRICT, ORISSA
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REPORT OF THE FOUR MEMBER COMMITTEE FOR

INVESTIGATION INTO THE PROPOSAL SUBMITTED

BY THE ORISSA MINING COMPANY FOR BAUXITE

MINING IN NIYAMGIRI
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Links

Kractivist - Inside report from the Supreme Court Niyamgiri case against #Vedanta #mustread #mustshare - 01 MAR 2013
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Survival International
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LAW RESOURCE INDIA

Vedanta’s Niyamgiri mine clearance rejected
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EJOLT blog
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The Hindu:
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[1] Foil Vedanta
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[2] The Goldman Environmental Prize 2017
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Media Links

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Other Documents

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Source: http://www.tehelka.com/2013/08/from-niyamgiri-a-lesson-for-democracy/
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Meta Information
ContributorLeah Temper
Last update25/04/2017
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