A Daily news digest by Jasper van Santen

Indian tribe’s Avatar-like battle against mining firm reaches supreme court | guardian.co.uk

In Nonsense on April 10, 2012 at 07:50

Women from the Dongria Kondh tribe sit under a tree at the foot of the Niyamgiri hills

Indian tribe’s Avatar-like battle against mining firm reaches supreme court

The leaders of thousands of forest-dwelling tribesmen who have fought for years to preserve their ancestral lands from exploitation by an international mining corporation have promised to continue their struggle whatever the decision in a key hearing before India’s supreme court on Monday.

Dubbed the “real-life Avatar” after the Hollywood blockbuster, the battle of the Dongria Kondh people to stop the London-based conglomerate Vedanta Resources from mining bauxite from a hillside they consider sacred has attracted international support. Celebrities backing the campaign include James Cameron, the director of Avatar, Arundhati Roy, the Booker prize-winning author, as well as the British actors Joanna Lumley and Michael Palin.

On Monday the court will decide on an appeal by Vedanta against a ministerial decision in 2010 that stopped work at the site in the Niyamgiri hills of India’s eastern Orissa state.

Lingaraj Azad, a leader of the Save Niyamgiri Committee, said the Dongria Kondh’s campaign was “not just that of an isolated tribe for its customary rights over its traditional lands and habitats, but that of the entire world over protecting our natural heritage”.

An alliance of local tribes has now formed to defend the Dongria Khondh. Kumity Majhi, a leader of the Majhi Kondh adivasi (indigenous people), said local communities would stop the mining “whether or not the supreme court favour us”.

“We, the Majhi Kondh adivasis, will help our Dongria Kondh brothers in protecting the mountains,” he said.

 

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