One of India’s most isolated tribes, the Dongria Kondh, is preparing to stop British FTSE 100 company Vedanta from mining aluminium ore on their sacred mountain, after police and hired thugs forced protestors to dismantle a barricade over the weekend.
About 150 people had blocked the road in Orissa state on Wednesday after hearing that Vedanta intended to start survey work for a planned aluminium mine which would destroy an ecologically vital hill, and the Dongria Kondh’s most sacred site. Vedanta employees visited the blockade repeatedly, threatening the protestors. On Friday the villagers gave in and took down the barricade, but about 100 are still at the side of the road, blocking traffic when Vedanta vehicles approach.
Vedanta is majority owned by London-based Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal.
Today, Dongria Kondh from all over Niyamgiri, the hill range that would be decimated by Vedanta’s mine, are making arrows and preparing their axes to stop Vedanta reaching their sacred mountain. One Dongria man said today ‘Now our people are very angry. We have to show the Dongria Kondh power to Vedanta.’
When India’s Supreme Court gave Vedanta the green light in August to mine on Dongria land, around 40 Dongrias used tree trunks to block a road leading into their hills, and held banners reading, ‘We are Dongria Kondh. Vedanta can not take our mountain.’
The mountain that Vedanta wants to mine is not only the Dongria Kondh’s most sacred site, it is also integral to the entire ecosystem of the hills, enabling the numerous streams and lush forests which sustain the Dongrias to continue to thrive.
Indians from the Enawene Nawe tribe in the Brazilian Amazon occupied and shut down the site of a huge hydroelectric dam on Saturday, destroying equipment, in an attempt to save the river that runs through their land.
The Enawene Nawe say the 77 dams to be built on the River Juruena will pollute the water and stop the fish reaching their spawning grounds. Fish is crucial to the Enawene Nawe’s diet as they do not eat red meat. It also plays a vital part in their rituals.
‘If the fish get sick and die so will the Enawene Nawe,’ said one member of the tribe.
Companies led by the world’s largest soya producers, the Maggi family, are pushing for the construction of the dams. Soya baron Blairo Maggi is also the governor of Mato Grosso state.
The Enawene Nawe number only five hundred, and live in one village in large communal houses around a central square. They were first contacted in 1974 by Jesuit missionaries. They chose for many years to have very little interaction with the outside world, but threats to their land have led them to campaign vigorously for their rights.
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