Mining group accused of environmental and human rights breaches in India by Amnesty International
Campaigners highlighting environmental and human rights breaches by mining group Vedanta Resources have been intimidated by police forces and subjected to trumped up charges, it was claimed on Tuesday.
The allegations were made by the human rights campaigners Amnesty International at the FTSE 100 group’s annual meeting, which was notable for requiring its own police presence as well as for the dissenting voices from City fund managers in addition to the protest groups. An Amnesty report claimed: “An ongoing inquiry by India’s Human Rights Commission [has found] that the police in both the framing of false charges and the suppression of dissent have acted to promote the interests of the company”.
Amnesty’s Peter Frankental asked the meeting: “Do you take these findings and allegations seriously and what are you going to do about them?” After a testy exchange, Vedanta non-executive director Naresh Chandra said: “Give us the information and we will have it investigated”.
Standard Life Investments, which holds 9m Vedanta shares, said it would abstain on the re-election of members of the nominations committee because the board contained too few independent directors. Aviva said it was “pleased to note considerable progress … [while] concerns over the company’s environmental and social record remain”. Aviva added that those concerns had depressed the share price of Vedanta, which mines predominantly in India, Zambia and Australia.
Among the other campaign groups attacking the company was Survival International which continued to highlight Vedanta’s efforts to mine bauxite in India’s Niyamgiri hill, which an indigenous tribe considers to be sacred.