Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Aug 1:
Protestors owing allegiance to ‘Foil Vedanta’, MPs and other organizations held a loud and colourful demonstration at the AGM of controversial FTSE 250 mining company Vedanta, currently in the eye of a storm over a ‘stage managed’ public hearing for expansion of its Odisha refinery, at the Lincoln Centre in London today.
Shortly before the AGM started at 3 pm, a huge banner was unfurled from the top of the next door building saying ‘Vedanta out of London’ eliciting cheers from the crowd.
The protesters were joined by a 6m inflatable blade of grass referring to Anil Agarwal’s repeated claim at previous AGMs that Vedanta ‘have not touched a single blade of grass’ at the Niyamgiri Hills in Odisha. Company executives were hassled as they entered the AGM.
MP John McDonnell joined the demonstration and asked questions inside the AGM after he and other MPs heard the case for investigating and de-listing Vedanta in a House of Commons meeting last week.
Inside the AGM, the leaked conclusions of the suppressed Sandeep Bakshi Judicial Commission report, which holds Vedanta guilty of negligence in the 2009 chimney collapse that killed 40 workers at Korba, Chhattisgarh were released.
Rajshri Gupte, a journalist from Korba, spoke to the crowd via phone link detailing Vedanta (BALCO)’s illegal expansion onto forest land, and lack of permission to operate at their Smelter no 3.
Protesters in London highlighted the controversies and violations caused by Vedanta since their last AGM.
The crowd gathered in London heard amplified reports from movement leaders and affected people at the previous day’s demonstrations around the world by phone including one of the 400 miners from Vedanta subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines in Zambia who massed in the streets today demanding Vedanta give them fair wages and pensions
Parallel demonstrations were held in Odisha, Delhi and Johannesburg yesterday. 400 miners protested Vedanta’s Konkola Copper Mines in Ndola, Zambia.
In Delhi, 40 people protested outside the Ministry of Environment and Forests yesterday expressing their solidarity with communities suffering Vedanta’s violations and demanding that Vedanta ‘keep its hands off Niyamgiri’.
Protests were also held in the Odisha capital of Bhubaneswar where demands were made for scrapping of the MoU the state government has signed with the company.