Vedanta AGM disrupted by demonstration in UK
London: Accusing the Vedanta mining company of destroying the Niyamgiri mountain worshipped by indigenous Dongria tribes of Orissa, around 250 supporters of a campaign group `Foil Vedanta` held a vociferous demonstration during its annual general meeting.
The demonstrators carried placards saying `Anil Agarwal, Blood on Your hands`, `Who killed Arsi Majhi? Vedanta, Vedanta`.
They claimed that Agarwal, Chairman of Vedanta was a "Wanted Criminal".
Despite police efforts to keep the demonstrators away from the Institute of Civil Engineer, in Westminster, London, where the annual meeting was held, the protesters moved partially into it with a large banner proclaiming `Vedanta plc: Stop the killings! stop the destruction!` Inside the AGM, many shareholders expressed their unhappiness about Vedanta`s activities.
Agarwal chaired the meeting and Naresh Chandra, a Vedanta Board Member took all questions.
They were faced by a barrage of questions from shareholders critical of Vedanta, centering mainly on the destruction of the Niyamgiri mountain.
Vedanta tried to counter this by showing a power point presentation by Mukesh Kumar, the Chief Operating Officer of the Lanjigarh refinery, in which he made a number of claims about improvements in the quality of life of Dongria`s since the arrival of Vedanta in their region.
He claimed that the Niyamgiri mountain was no longer worshipped by the Dongria and that they welcomed Vedanta`s intervention.
These claims were challenged by Samarendra Das, author of the recent pathbreaking book "Out of this Earth", about the Aluminium industry who was attending the meeting as a shareholder.
Das, himself from Orissa, with years of experience of working with Dongrias accused Kumar of misleading the shareholders and asked "How much do you know about the
Dongrias? Can you even tell us the name of their God.
Tell us if you know it!" Kumar was unable to answer and admitted that he did not know.
After the meeting, two European banks announced that they were to disinvest in August this year and a representative of Aviva, the insurance company, said his company was also considering disinvesting.
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