PROTEST AGAINST GLOBAL COAL MANAGEMENT PLC. AT THEIR AGM

By Raaj Manik

 

Despite the cold weather, a loud and theatrical protest was again held outside the AGM of British mining company Global Coal Resources Management (GCM) at the Aeronautical Society in 4 Hamilton Place in London at 10am today. In solidarity with the communities in Phulbari, where three people were shot dead as paramilitary officers opened fire on a demonstration of 80,000 people in 2006, protesters reaffirmed that they will not sleep until GCM is ousted from Bangladesh. A parallel protest followed by a press conference was held in Phulbari against the plans by GCM, an AIM-listed company who want to build a massive open cast coal mine by forcibly displacing 130,000 people in Phulbari, northwest Bangladesh. Inside the AGM in London, dissident shareholders asked questions on behalf of the communities in Phulbari and Dinajpur by accusing the company of human rights abuses as the CEO of the company has filed multiple arbitrary charges against 26 frontline defenders, indigenous farmers, small entrepreneurs and local leaders who opposed the mine.

Please see a short video of today’s protest in London!

Read minutes of GCM’s AGM 2017: Flogging a Dead Horse

Coal play outside the AGM. Photo credit: Keval Bharadia, South Asia Solidarity

Climate activists and community defenders under the banner of Committee to Protect Resources of Bangladesh and Phulbari Solidarity Group , calling for three-point demands, blocked  the pavement at the main entrance of the Aeronautical Society for two hours. They demanded that GCM’s CEO, Gary N Lye, must withdraw all cases against activists in Bangladesh with immediate effect, that GCM must stop selling shares in the name of Phulbari project in London’s Alternative Investors Market, and that GCM must Leave Bangladesh immediately. The demo ended with a comedy coal show where activists wearing masks of coal thieves, Gary N Lye (CEO of the company) and Michael Tang (the Chairman of the company), attacked a Bangladeshi woman holding coal from Phulbari. Protesters forced the maskmen to leave the premises and sang Phulbari jingles against coal mine: “your home and my home, Phulbari Phulbari”.

 

Dissident shareholders inside the AGM poured scorn on GCM’s 2017 Annual Report which claims that the company “Continued to make progress with principle partner China Gezhouba Group International Engineering Co Limited [CGGC, ultimately owned by China Gen Engineering Ltd.]”and that they are “Working on proposal for mine mouth power plant to provide integrated power solution for government of Bangladesh.”  The company claims, overlooking the declining of share price over the last month from £43.00 on 14 November to £26.38 today, that “Last month [it] raised 2m pounds before costs enabling all shareholders to participate and to enable GCM to continue pursuing strategy of joint mine and power plant proposal.” The report concludes by acknowledging “There are significant challenges ahead”, not least achieving approval to go ahead. They still believe that they are “in the right direction and hopes to continue momentum into New Year.” Shareholders condemning the report say that it represents a poor attempt to cover up the fact that they lost credibility and market confidence. The company has been drowning in bank loans, but still borrowing money and facing continuous loss.  GCM was again found violating human rights and disregarding the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights  at the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights Report 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The UN Forum on Business and Human Rights is the global platform for yearly stock-taking and lesson-sharing on efforts to move the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights from paper into practice. The Phulbari case was highlighted at the 6th UN conference held on 27-29 November 2017 in Geneva and GCM’s failure was noted in Annual Report of UNFBHR 2017. Shareholders also note the Bangladesh government has not given the company the go-ahead because of a lack of a “social licence to operate” in Phulbari and anywhere else in Bangladesh. There was also an OECD complaint about GCM failing to keep obligations. An internal review of the UK governments investigation affirmed that the OECD 2011 guidelines do apply to human rights abuses that would occur if the project went ahead. GCM’s Board of Directors failed to respond to shareholders scrutiny. Today’s meeting ended in a rush, lasting less than an hour, as the Board was exhausted by questions.

 

Today’s protest echoed the demands made by the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Port-Power and Mineral Resources in Bangladesh . Activists from 12 grassroots organisations, including Coal Action Network, Grow Heathrow, Foil Vedanta, South Asia Solidarity Group, K M Protectors (North-east England),  Communist Party of Bangladesh – UK branch, Bangladesh Socialist Party, UK branch, Reclaim the Power, London Mining Network, Plane Stupid, and the Socialist Party of England and Wales, joined the protest outside or inside the AGM.

 

Global Coal Management, formerly known as Asia Energy, has been allegedly involved in abuse and harassment of opponents of the proposed Phulbari mine. Media reports on the brutal death of Nasrin Huq, the former executive director of Action Aid, revealed that Huq was killed brutally in her car park because of her strong opposition to the project.[i] Later in August 26 in 2006, three people were shot dead and two hundred injured in a demonstration of 80,000 people who marched against plans by the company. It has been 11 years since the powerful resistance in the aftermath of the shooting against an open-cast mine in Phulbari has put a decade long halt to the project. Government has cancelled the company’s license but the company has been pushing the government to give them a go ahead.

 

Rumana Hashem, the PSG spokesperson and an eye witness to the Phulbari outburst in 2006, said:

“the company is abusing our people and criminalising society in Bangladesh. We will hold them to account here. We will not give up until London Stock Exchange de-list GCM. We will ensure that this company could never go back to Bangladesh.’”

Akhter Sobhan Khan of Committee to Protect Resources of Bangladesh said that:

“The company does not have a valid contract with Bangladesh; nevertheless they are selling shares in the name of Phulbari project. London Stock Exchange must de-list GCM as they are doing deceitful marketing of the project”.

 

If the mine is built, it would not only displace 130,000 families of farmers in Phulbari but also would destroy 14,600 hectares of highly cultivable land, would pose threats to clean water resources and would leave devastative impact on one of the world’s largest mangrove forests and UNESCO heritage site, the Sunderbans. In February 2012, seven UN rapporteurs expressed grave concerns to the project, and at national and international level. The UK National Contact Point has acknowledged the strong opposition to the project in an assessment in 2015.

[i]               The mystery death of Nasrin Huq – a report to which the company was not able to respond, was derived from http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/sep/03/bangladesh, last cited on 01. 01. 2013

 

For further information on GCM and Phulbari resistance:

Read full report of GCM’s AGM 2017: Flogging a Dead Horse

Check out the Facebook event page for updates and more photos

Read News about GCM’s paperless business in Bangladesh here

Read also how GCM’s CEO Gary Lye was evicted from Phulbari: Prothom Alo News

News about Bangladesh government’s latest position about is here: Asia Energy/GCM

Read also report of LMN about previous AGM of GCM here

Visit PSG Facebook page for regular updates on the developments in Bangladesh and Phulbari: https://www.facebook.com/phulbarisolidaritygroup/

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GCM Must Leave Bangladesh Now!

Memorandum of the Demonstration against AGM of Global Coal Resources Management Plc.

4 Hamilton Place, London, W1J 7BQ.

Tuesday, 12 December, 2017.

 

Photo credit: Keval Bharadia, South Asia Solidarity Group

Today we, the activists from Bangladesh, Tower Hamlets, and London’s environmental organisations, have gathered to call upon the AIM-listed London-based extractive company, GCM Resources Plc, to leave Bangladesh. The company, GCM Resources, is desperately moving to implement an immense open pit coal mine in northwest Bangladesh, forcibly displacing an estimated 130, 000 people and destroying the homes, lands, and water sources of as many as 220,000 people. If the project is implemented, it will destroy over 14,660 hecters of fertile agricultural land that produce three food crops annually, threatening to increase hunger in a country in which over a third of all children and nearly 17 percent of the entire population are undernourished.

 

GCM’s planned Phulbari coal mine has provoked repeated protests by local people. Three people were killed and over 200 injured when paramilitary officers opened fire on a protest against the project in August 2006. Protests in 2013 forced the company’s CEO, Gary Lye, to abandon a visit to the area.

 

The project has generated grave concern at national and international levels including the United Nations. On 28 February, 2012, seven UN human rights experts have called for an immediate halt to the project, citing threats to fundamental human rights, including the rights to water, food, adequate housing, freedom from extreme poverty and the rights of indigenous peoples. On  20 November, 2014, the UK government has concluded, following an investigation into GCM’s activities in Phulbari, that the company had breached the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises by failing to “foster confidence and mutual trust” with the people who would be affected by the mine. We welcome the Board’s affirmation that the 2011 Guidelines on human rights do apply to the planned conduct of an enterprise and its prospective impacts on human rights (para 6).  We welcome also the finding that the 2011 Guidelines would apply if GCM “continued to be “actively involved in the project” (para 19).  An internal review of the investigation affirmed that the OECD 2011 guidelines do apply to human rights abuses that would occur if the project went ahead.

But Global Coal Resources Management is aggressively moving ahead to implement Phulbari coal project. They are selling fraudulent shares in London’s Alternative Investors Market (AIM) –although the company does not have any valid contract with Bangladesh Government for business in Bangladesh and they do not have any other project elsewhere. It’s been 11 years since we have put a halt to the Phulbari coal project. The government in Bangladesh has declined to renew the contract for the project. GCM do not have any valid project in anywhere in the world. But they do hold an office in Bangladesh and the company’s corrupt CEO keep going back to Bangladesh to lobby MPs and politicians. We say they should leave Bangladesh now.

In 2011 and 2012, we have served two notices of eviction to GCM. Instead of leaving Bangladesh, GCM has been abusing communities and activists in Dinajpur and Phulbari. They are violating the guidelines of OECD.  The company’s Chief Executive Officer, Gary N Lye has filed multiple arbitrary cases against 26 frontline community defenders in a Bangladeshi court. These community defenders are farmers and small entrepreneurs who do not have as much as money as Lye to fight the cases in a court. Through the harassment and abuse of frontline community activists, the company embarked on a project to silence opponents to the Phulbari coal project.

 

The UK Committee  (National Committee) to Protect Oil- Gas-Mineral Resources and Port-Power in Bangladesh and Phulbari Solidarity Group, in conjunction with Foil Vedanta, London Mining Network, Reclaim the Power, Socialist Party of England and Wales, and all our co-worker organisations stand with the communities in Phulbari, Dinajpur and Bangladesh.  We will not be silent bywatcher. We demand, as National Committee of Bangladesh, that:

  1. GCM’s CEO, Gary N Lye, must withdraw all cases against activists in Bangladesh with immediate effect,
  2. GCM must stop selling shares in the name of Phulbari project in London’s Alternative Investors Market (AIM), and
  3. Finally, GCM must Leave Bangladesh immediately.

 

We declare, on behalf of the people in Phulbari, our resistance will not end until the above three-point demands are met. We will not give up until GCM has closed their office in Bangladesh, until they have stopped selling shares in the name of Phulbari coal project in London Stock Exchange.

The undersigned organisations:

Dr Mokhlesur Rahman, President, NCBD-UK branch

Sarbjit Johal, South Asia Solidarity Group

Michelle Easton, K M Protectors (North-east England)

Mostofa Farook , Bangladesh Socialist Party, UK branch

Miriam Rose, Foil Vedanta

Nesar Ahmed, Communist Party of Bangladesh – UK branch

Peter Mason, Socialist Party of England and Wales

Richard Roberts, Reclaim the Power

Richard Solly, London Mining Network

Rumana Hashem, Phulbari Solidarity Group

Sam Sender, Plane Stupid

 

Protest the GCM Resources’ AGM

10am on Tuesday, 12 December 2017

4 Hamilton Place, London W1J 7BQ 

(Nearest Tube station: Hyde Park Corner)

 

Bangladeshi activists together with London-based climate defenders will hold a lively and theatrical protest against the London-based AIM-listed mining company, in solidarity with representatives of communities in Phulbari, where three people were shot dead and 200 injured in a demonstration of 80,000 people in 2006 for opposing a massive coal project.

Courtesy Saptahik 2000 (reprint) 26 August 2016

 

Global Coal Management Resources (GCM), formerly known as Asia Energy, wants to build an immense open cast coal mine in Phulbari, Bangladesh. The project threatens to destroy the homes, lands and water sources of as many as 220,000 people, and forcibly evict an estimated 130,000 people. If the project is implemented, it would destroy 14,600 hectares of highly cultivable land and would leave devastative impact on the world’s largest mangrove forests and UNESCO heritage site, the Sunderbans.

 

Bangladesh said ‘NO’ to open cast mining. The government has declined to renew GCM’s license after the shooting. The company does not hold a valid contract with Bangladesh. But they are selling shares in the name of Phulbari project in London Stock Exchange. GCM’s CEO has been systematically abusing local opponents of the project. 26 frontline community defenders in Phulbari and Dinajpur have been faced with multiple arbitrary cases as GCM’s CEO filed illogical cases. We are heading to GCM’s annual general meeting to challenge the investors and to ask them to leave Bangladesh. The annual general meeting of the company will be held at 10.00 a.m. on Tuesday 12 December 2017 at 4 Hamilton Place, London W1J 7BQ.

 

JOIN Us Inside and Outside the AGM!

Stand Against Abuse and Harassment of Community Defenders by GCM!

For further information, please contact:  07714288221, 07956260791, 07936047597

Email:Committee to Protect Resources of Bangladesh, UK branch nationalcommittee.uk@gmail.com , Phulbari Solidarity Group phulbarisolidaritygroup@gmail.com

Visit Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/155245848559144/

 

Hundreds Signed the Berlin Declaration to Save the Sundarbans

The European Network of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports in Bangladesh (NCBD)  has demanded the cancellation of Bangladesh Government’s  destructive project of 1320 MW Rampal Coal based power plant situated near the world largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans. Rampal is situated very close to sensitive ecological zone – biosphere of Sundarbans, which is the ultimate home of hundreds of species and the Royal Bengal Tiger. The adjacent area of the mangrove has already become a hub of industries because of this mega scale power plant. Therefore, the committee has also demanded to formulate supportive policy and to take necessary steps for alternative energy solution in order to save lives and nature from coal pollution and to produce cheap and affordable electricity in future. 

To oppose the destructive Rampal Coal-Power Plant, a two-day international conference was held at the Democracy and Humanity Centre in Berlin, Germany on 19-20 August, 2017.  Along with spontaneous participation of senior academics and ecologists from Germany, and front-line Bangladeshi green activists, many international environmentalists and representatives from climate organisation’s joined the conference in Berlin to say ‘NO’ to Rampal Power Plant. Among the participants were a large number of Bangladeshi researchers, students and professionals from Europe who expressed grave concerns.

At the end of the two-day conference, a statement of what the conference organisers called the ‘Berlin Declaration’ was announced, urging the government to promote renewable energy in Bangladesh, thereby saving the Sundarbans. In solidarity with the declaration that was announced from the conference in Berlin, over a hundred of environmentalists and nature and biodiversity based organisations such as 350.org. Europe, Coal Action Network, Green Peace, Friends of the Earth,  London Mining Network, World Wild Foundation, Women Engage for the Common Future, Bank Truck, Reclaim the Power and more have signed the Berlin Declaration.  We echo the signatories of the Berlin Declaration.  We signed the declaration as below:

 

We, the participants and supporters of the Sundarbans Solidarity Action Networking and An Alternative Energy Solutions for Bangladesh, an international conference to be held on 19-20 August, 2017, organised by The National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas and Mineral Resources, Power and Ports in Bangladesh, the European Action Branch in Berlin have  signed the declaration as  follows:

 

The Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest of the world, is bestowed with magnificent scenic beauty and extraordinarily rich in biodiversity with a unique eco-system. It is a habitat of some of the endangered species e.g. Bengal Tiger, Ganges dolphin.  People living in adjacent areas are also dependent on this forest.  In addition to providing livelihood, it is also protecting millions of people living in the coastal belt from tidal surges and cyclones.

 

This forest is under severe threat from a Bangladesh-India joint venture project– Rampal Power Plant, a coal based power generating company. The plant is placed only 14 km from the forest. It is estimated that the plant will emit 7.9 million tons of CO2, and 0.94 million tons of ashes annually which will contaminate environment of the adjacent areas and will put the fragile ecosystem into critical condition. Despite the grave concerns raised by the experts, scientists, environmentalists, local population and international organisations, the Government of Bangladesh has been  moving ahead to implement the project for the last seven years. The project is scheduled to be completed within  the coming few years . To justify the project the government is blatantly giving false assurances to protect the forest from all  kinds of adverse impacts. The Government of India is also a major stakeholder of this joint-venture project and playing important roles as consultant, financier, and supplier of the equipment.

 

There is a growing demand of electricity in the country. To address the demand, the government has adopted a Power Sector Master Plan (PSMP) in 2016. The plan has proposed that the use of coal would increase from the current 0.3% to over 35%. The coal-fired power plants would produce electricity worth of 19,000 MW. It has also set the target to meet 10% of its electricity demand, by 2041, from its 7000 MW nuclear fleet, undermining the renewable energy potential. According to the PSMP 2016, the contribution of renewable energy would be only 3% of total electricity generation by 2041. This suggests that the government’s plan has failed to address environmental concerns and technical development in regards to renewable energy sources. Environment friendly renewable energy solutions are sustainable and cost effective and because of this, many countries in Europe and Asia including India and China are moving away from coal and nuclear based power generations.  Contrary to this, ignoring the growing positive shift , the government of Bangladesh has taken a position in support of dirty coal and nuclear based power generations.

 

Given this, the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports in Bangladesh (NCBD) has proposed an Alternative Power Sector Master Plan (APSMP) in July 2017. The APSMP 2017 has proposed to generate 55% of electricity from renewable energy sources including solar, wind, waste  and other green resources by 2041. The National Committee also  stipulates that there is an urgent need for the need for building national capability  that would attain 100% renewable energy usage to meet electricity demand of the country by 2050.  The NCBD has also categorically refuted the government’s arguments in regard to the nuclear and coal dependent energy policy.

 

We, the signatories of this declaration, view the NCBD proposed APSMP as a way forward to the current energy needs of Bangladesh.We  ask the government to listen to the NCBD’s suggestions for clean and renewable energy movement and protect the Sunderbans. We see it is the government’s duty to protect peoples’ interest rather than corporate greed and interest. As renewable energy is cheaper and eco-friendly, we demand a policy shift emphasizing renewable energy production rather than dirty coal energy generation. Renewable energy will protect ecology, life and livelihood of the people. The government must take appropriate steps to phase out coal and replace it with renewable energy sources in Bangladesh. The government ought to halt the Rampal Power Plant with immediate effect. As a coal based power plant, Rampal Plant will irreversibly damage the Sundarbans. It will disrupt the link between humans and the natural world by destroying ecology and species. This convention and the signatories of this declaration unequivocally demands immediate halt of the plant. We urge everyone to raise their voice to save  the Sundarbans, and to save our future.

 

Commemoration on Phulbari Day and Celebration of Over a Decade of Halt to an Open-Pit-Mine Held

Friday, the 26th of August 2017 marks the 11th anniversary of Phulbari outburst when local activists, farmers, housewives and small entrepreneurs in Phulbari  have put a halt to a massive open-pit-coal mine by saying ‘NO’ to Global Coal Management (GCM) Resources Plc, an AIM-listed British mining company who want to build a massive open cast coal mine by forcibly displacing 130,000 people in Phulbari, a location in northwest Bangladesh.

 

Hand-painted banner for victims of Phulbari shooting. Photocredit: Peter Marshall

 

On 26th August in 2006 three people were shot dead and two hundred injured in a demonstration of 80,000 people who marched against plans by the Global Coal Resources Management , formerly known as Asia Energy. The day has been dubbed Phulbari Day since. If the mine is built, 130,000 families of farmers in Phulbari would be forcibly displaced. It would destroy 14,600 hectares of highly cultivable land, would pose threats to clean water resources, and would leave devastative impact on one of the world’s largest mangrove forests and an UNESCO heritage site, the Sundarbans.

Phulbari outburst on 26 August 2006.

Pupils at Oxford’s Rose Hill Primary School painted banner against open cast mine to express solidarity with Phulbari people . 18 June 2015. Photo: Andy Edwards

Families of the victims and women protesters march towards Shahid Minar in Phulbari to pay tribute. 26 August 2015. Photo: Anonymous

Grand rally of locals in Phulbari town on 27 December 2014. Photo credit: Kallol Mustafa

The powerful resistance in the aftermath of the shooting against open-cast mine in Phulbari has put a decade long halt to the project. Government has cancelled the company’s license. Communities and climate activists at national and international levels formed a three-level resistance under the banner of National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports in Bangladesh (NCBD).  In support of the tremendous resilience in Phulabri, the National Committee (NCBD) held commemoration events in Bangladesh and London on Saturday 26 August in 2017. Like every year, the day was celebrated and the victims were remembered with respect by communities, simultaneously activists vowed to continue the struggle to end land grabbing and dirty coal power in Phulbari and elsewhere.

 

 

Despite grave concerns at national and international levels GCM is pushing the government to give it a go ahead. The company has changed its name from Asia Energy to Global Coal Management in 2010, and continued its dodgy deals and lobbying for Phulbari coal mine in Bangladesh.  Although GCM does not have a valid contract with Bangladesh, they are selling shares in the name of Phulbari coal project. Our strength is people power in and outside Phulbari. The halt to Phulbari coal project will continue.

Sun Has Shone On The Communities At The Vibrant Demo Against Vedanta Resources

By Rumana Hashem

Monday, the 14th August, was apparently a bright day for the communities oppressed by a notorious British mining company, called Vedanta Resources. Protests held by communities in Zambia, India and London while activist-shareholders, representing the communities, were interrogating the Vedanta board at their Annual General Meeting at the Lincoln Centre in Lincoln Inn Fields in London. Although residents of Lincoln Inn Fields have seen lousy weather with gusty wind and non-stop rain across London for weeks before Monday, the gorgeous sun has shown up to brighten the colourful and powerful protest of communities against Vedanta Resources last Monday.  Loud and theatrical protest was held outside the AGM of the British mining company, for three hours, accusing the company of major environmental and human rights abuses across its operations. I was one of the late comers though there were numerous protesters with noisy instruments and colourful banners and placards till late afternoon who greeted me in smiling face. They said, as were determined, that: “We wouldn’t leave the venue hitherto the miners are out of the block”.

 

Parallel protests and meetings were held by affected communities and their supporters at several locations in India and Zambia. Inside the AGM, dissident shareholders in London asked questions on behalf of Zambian villagers who are suing Vedanta in the UK for twelve years of polluted water, and tribal inhabitants of the Niyamgiri hills in Odisha, India, who accuse Vedanta of murdering and harassing them with state collusion. Organised by the Foil Vedanta, the protest in London was joined by many grassroots organisations and community activists from the global South.

 

The shareholders, representing communities, poured scorn on Vedanta’s 2017 Annual Report, which claims that the company ‘demonstrate world-class standards of governance, safety, sustainability and social responsibility’. They say it represents a poor attempt to don the “cloak of respectability” of a London listing noting that Vedanta was again excluded from the Norwegian Pension Fund’s investments this year following an investigation which found “numerous reports of Vedanta’s failure to comply with government requirements”1 at four subsidiaries in Odisha, Chhatisgarh, Tamil Nadu and Zambia. The report concludes that: “there continues to be an unacceptable risk that your company will cause or contribute to severe environmental damage and serious or systematic human rights violations.”

 

On Sunday, a day before the AGM, farming communities living downstream of copper mines run by Vedanta subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) in Chingola, Zambia, held a meeting in Hippo Pool to renew their resolve in their twelve year struggle against the company for severe water pollution which has caused major health problems, and rendered land uncultivable. Police had refused them permission to hold a protest. Government officials visited their villages in Spring this year asking them to drop their London case against Vedanta and settle out of court with the company. The Headmen of Hippo Pool village submitted a statement to the Vedanta board and shareholders which was asked by Shoda Rackal from Women of Colour in Global Women’s Strike. The statement notes:

 

The people here are sick and tired of pollution which is killing us through illness and loss of our crops and fish. The pollution must end at all costs. Whether we receive compensation or not, we are asking you to stop polluting us now.”

 

Another dissident shareholder asked why Vedanta’s Annual Report makes no mention of its liabilities relating to the landmark legal case in which 1,826 of the farmers have been granted jurisdiction to sue Vedanta in London for gross pollution by KCM. At the July appeal hearing in the case, Vedanta’s lawyers claimed that the company’s sustainability and human rights reports are only produced for show as a requirement of London Stock Exchange rules. Instead they claimed Vedanta Resources has very little actual oversight or involvement with subsidiary operations such as Konkola Copper Mines.2

 

Meanwhile in Zambia debate rages over KCM’s secret finances as the company on Thursday announced it would retrench a further swathe of workers in favour of contract labour at its Nchanga underground mines. KCM have never filed Annual accounts in Zambia according to the recent London judgment.3 Samarendra Das from Foil Vedanta says:

The UK Government and London Stock Exchange are directly responsible for failing to investigate Vedanta’s corporate crimes in India and Zambia since its London listing in 2003. The Zambian State’s threats to polluted farmers demonstrate the ongoing colonial power of this British corporation which acts more powerful than the Zambian State.”

“Britain is profiting from the financial transactions of non-domiciled family-run business houses like Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta, while appearing to provide them a service. The opaqueness of the British financial system is gaining directly from giving Anil Agarwal “a cloak of respectability” and in exchange Britain itself is gaining from appropriating the resources of the third world”, adds Das.

 

Anil Agarwal with polluted water at the Vedanta AGM 14 August 2017. Photo credit: Foil Vedanta

In Chattisgarh the organisation Adivasi Resurgence held a protest at Ambedkar Chowk in Raipur, decrying Vedanta’s suppression of the Bakshi Commission report into the death of between 40 and 100 workers when a chimney collapsed at their Korba power plant.4 The inquiry found Vedanta as guilty of negligence and using sub-standard materials and construction methods which caused the death of the workers.5

 

At the University of Hyderabad the group Odisha Scholars for Social Justice held a protest and meeting today in solidarity with communities affected by Vedanta’s operations worldwide. In Delhi, students from Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA) held a solidarity demonstration at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) calling for an end to the displacement and repression of Dalit, Bahujan and Adivasi communities across India by Vedanta.

 

While their Annual Report claims to respect the right to ‘Free Prior Informed Consent’, Vedanta has not given up its plans to mine the Niyamgiri hills, despite a unanimous referendum against it by tribal inhabitants in 2013. The Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) has filed a new plea with the National Green Tribunal to overturn the referendum, claiming it overstepped the provisions of the Forest Rights Act by allowing Palli Sabhas to decide on mining, rather than merely settling their claims.6 In September 2016 a group of Dongria Kond had burned down a CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) camp, opposing construction of a road connecting Niyamgiri to Kalyansingpur, which they claim is to aid Vedanta’s mine plans, and opposing ongoing harassment by the force.7

 

Last Friday five villages around another Odisha bauxite mountain – Kodingamali – held a palli sabha (village council) opposing the proposed mining of the mountain by OMC to feed Vedanta’s Lanjigarh refinery.8 They passed a resolution “not to give any patta land, forest land and community land to any mining company” under the banner of Ganatantrik Adhikar Suraksha Sangathan.

 

The Dongria Konds also held a protest on Tuesday in Lakhpadar village on Niyamgiri mountain under the banner of Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti (NSS). They demanded the dismantling the Lanjigarh refinery since Vedanta did not get permission to mine, and an end to its illegal expansion. They also demand an end to the militarisation of Niyamgiri, claiming that the anti-Maoist programs are in fact targeting the tribal activists. Ongoing abductions, false arrests and State sponsored murders of tribal activists against Vedanta’s mine have been highly publicised in recent months.An NSS spokesperson Lingaraj Azad said:

 

Vedanta didn’t get permission to mine so why are they keeping the Lanjigarh refinery? which continues to pollute our communities, affecting our ecology and water resources and making people and animals sick.”

In August 2016 Vedanta Head, Anil Agarwal, told a press conference that he had asked Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to deal with the ‘disruptive elements’ holding up bauxite mining in the State, suggesting he follow the Tamil Nadu government’s approach with protesters at Kudankulam, where widespread police brutality was reported.9 In February 2016 Vedanta employed the services of former Iraq war General Sir Richard Shirreff, and Lord Peter Hain, former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in ‘handling local protest groups’.10

 

Vedanta Resources are again the subject of multiple major scams and several international arbitrations this year. An international arbitration is underway for Vedanta’s withholding of $100 million in dividends from Cairn Energy, owner of 9.8% shares in Vedanta controlled oil company Cairn India.11 In December 2016 London courts ordered Vedanta subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines to pay $103 million in withheld dividends to Zambian State entity ZCCM-IH.12

 

The Rajasthani High Court has uncovered a Rs 600 crore ($96 million) tax evasion scam in which Vedanta subsidiary Hindustan Zinc Ltd (HZL) benefitted from tax fraud at the hands of shamed IAS officer Ashok Singhvi in 2015.13 HZL is the subject of another major scam in which it closed its Visakhapatnam Zinc smelter on false grounds to enable the sale of the land for high value realty. HZL is also accused of major toxic pollution at the site.14

 

In Punjab, Vedanta subsidiary Talwandi Sabo Power Ltd is the subject of a major power purchase scam in which the Akali Dal government bought power at inflated prices from the private company over cheaper State owned companies.15 Former Rio Tinto CEO, Tom Albanese, will step down from Vedanta’s board at this year’s AGM along with executives Euan MacDonald and Aman Mehta. Vedanta’s CEO of Zambian operations Steven Din has recently been accused of offering bribes for the Simandou iron ore mine by the former Guinean mining minister, as part of a major corruption investigation. Din was head of Rio Tinto’s Guinean operation at the time the scandal unfolded, while Tom Albanese was CEO.16 Recent analyst reports highlight Vedanta’s high debt, lack of bauxite at Lanjigarh refinery, and operational issues in Zambia.

Reports have detailed how twelve years of pollution by KCM has turned the river Kafue into a ‘river of acid’19 20 and left the farmers with no access to clean water. As well as suing KCM and Vedanta in the UK for personal injury and loss of livelihood due to gross pollution, the villagers are demanding that KCM de-silt and remediate the contaminated areas so they can return to normal life.

An estimated 40,000 people in total are affected by contaminated water which also affects the municipal piped water system21. A number of scientific papers have documented the extent of contamination, with acid pH and heavy metal content regularly tens and even hundreds of times above legal limits.22 23 24

 

One villager Judith Kapumba appears in a youtube video testifying to how contamination has destroyed their livelihood and their lives, has claimed that many have ‘collapsed and died’ as a result of illnesses caused by drinking contaminated water, and that crops can no longer grow leading to starvation and extreme poverty. 25

 

 

For further details visit Foil Vedanta website:  www.foilvedanta.org

For photos and a short film of London demonstration, visit Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoilVedanta/

Global Day Of Action Against British Miner Vedanta Resources To Be Held At Their AGM

BY FOIL VEDANTA

* Protests to be held by communities affected by British miner Vedanta Resources in India and Africa.

* Activist shareholders to again disrupt London AGM on 14th August.

* Vedanta battles international arbitration and UK compensation case over Zambian pollution.

Loud and theatrical protests will again be held outside the AGM of British mining company Vedanta Resources'(1) AGM at the Lincoln Centre, Lincoln Inn Fields, London at 2pm on Monday 14th August(2) accusing the company of major environmental and human rights abuses across its operations. Parallel protests will be held by affected communities and their supporters at several locations in India and Zambia. Inside the AGM, dissident shareholders will ask questions on behalf of Zambian villagers who are suing Vedanta in the UK for twelve years of polluted water, as well as tribal inhabitants of the Niyamgiri hills in Odisha, India who accuse Vedanta of murdering and harassing them with state collusion.

Protesters in London will pour scorn on Vedanta’s 2017 Annual Report, which claims that the company ‘demonstrate world-class standards of governance, safety, sustainability and social responsibility’. They say it represents a poor attempt to don the ‘cloak of respectability'(3) of a London listing, pointing out that:

  • Vedanta’s Annual Report makes no mention of its liabilities relating to the landmark legal case in which 1,826 Zambian farmers have been granted jurisdiction to sue Vedanta in London for gross pollution by its subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines (KCM).(4)
  • At the July appeal hearing in the case, Vedanta’s lawyers claimed that the company’s sustainability and human rights reports are only produced for show as a requirement of London Stock Exchange rules. Instead they claimed Vedanta Resources has very little actual oversight or involvement with subsidiary operations such as Konkola Copper Mines.1
  • Vedanta are again subject of an international arbitration for withholding $100 million in dividends from Cairn Energy, owner of 9.8% shares in Vedanta controlled oil company Cairn India.2 In December 2016 London courts ordered Vedanta subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines to pay $103 million in withheld dividends to Zambian State entity ZCCM-IH.3
  • The Rajasthani High Court has uncovered a Rs 600 crore ($96 million) tax evasion scam in which Vedanta subsidiary Hindustan Zinc Ltd benefitted from tax fraud at the hands of shamed IAS officer Ashok Singhvi in 2015.4
  • While their Annual Report claims to respect the right to ‘Free Prior Informed Consent’, Vedanta has not given up its plans to mine the Niyamgiri hills, despite a unanimous referendum against it by tribal inhabitants in 2013. The Odisha Mining Corporation has filed a new plea with the National Green Tribunal to overturn the referendum, claiming it overstepped the provisions of the Forest Rights Act by allowing Palli Sabhas to decide on mining, rather than merely settling their claims.5

The Dongria Konds of Niyamgiri will hold a protest before the AGM demanding the dismantling the Lanjigarh refinery, and an end to its illegal expansion. They will also demand the release of Dongria activists from jail, decrying the ongoing abductions, false arrests and State sponsored murders of tribal activists against Vedanta’s mine. In May Kuni Sikaka, a 20 year old Dongria woman and active Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti member, whose father in law is NSS leader Dadhi Pusika, was removed from her home and kept in police jail for 3 days, where she was told to surrender as a Maoist or be jailed for 15 years. On 7th April 2016 Dasru Kadraka, a 25-year-old Adivasi youth leader and activist of NSS, was arrested and tortured with electric shocks by police asking him to surrender as a Maoist. An all female fact finding team comprising of senior Indian activists detailed these abuses in May 2017.6 In September 2016 a group of Dongria Kond had burned down a CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) camp, opposing construction of a road connecting Niyamgiri to Kalyansingpur, which they claim is to aid Vedanta’s mine plans, and opposing ongoing harassment by the force.7

In Zambia severely polluted villagers will submit questions to be asked by dissident shareholders at the London AGM.(5) Government officials visited their villages in Spring this year asking them to drop the London case against Vedanta and settle out of court with the company.

Samarendra Das from Foil Vedanta says:

The UK Government and London Stock Exchange are directly responsible for failing to investigate Vedanta’s corporate crimes in Zambia since 2006. The Zambian State’s threats to polluted farmers demonstrate the ongoing colonial power of this British corporation which acts more powerful than the Zambian State.”

Former Rio Tinto CEO Tom Albanese will step down from Vedanta’s board at this year’s AGM along with executives Euan MacDonald and Aman Mehta. Vedanta’s CEO of Zambian operations Steven Din has recently been accused of offering bribes for the Simandou iron ore mine by the former Guinean mining minister, as part of a major corruption investigation. Din was head of Rio Tinto’s Guinean operation at the time the scandal unfolded, while Tom Albanese was CEO.8

Recent analyst reports highlight Vedanta’s high debt, lack of bauxite at Lanjigarh refinery, and operational issues in Zambia.

Please join us at the demonstration at 2pm on Monday 14th August at the Lincoln Centre, Lincoln In Fields, London, WC2A 3ED.

Notes:

CASE STUDIES IN LONDON, ZAMBIA, and INDIA ARE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST.

Photographs and a report of the London and global demonstrations will follow on 14th August by 4pm GMT.

A short film of the London demonstration will be released to broadcast media by 5pm GMT on 14th August.

Contact: Miriam Rose: miriam.rose@outlook.com

Foil Vedanta www.foilvedanta.org

  1. Vedanta is a FTSE 250 diversified oil and mining company, who have been named the

‘world’s most hated company’ by the Independent newspaper for their long list of

environmental and human rights crimes for which they are being opposed all over the

world.9

  1. Foil Vedanta are a London based international solidarity group focusing on the activities of British mining company Vedanta. We link up global communities affected by Vedanta, and hold them to account in London. We are currently making the case for Vedanta to be de-listed from the London Stock Exchange for their human rights and corporate governance abuses.
  1. Former Director General of the Confederation of British Industries, Richard Lambert, stated: ‘It never occurred to those of us who helped to launch the FTSE 100 index 27 years ago that one day it would be providing a cloak of respectability and lots of passive investors for companies that challenge the canons of corporate governance such as Vedanta…’.10.
  1. 1,826 of the most affected villagers won the right to have their case against KCM and Vedanta, demanding compensation for personal injury and loss of livelihood due to gross pollution, heard in UK courts in May 2016. Vedanta’s appeal to the judgment was heard in July 2017 and a verdict is expected in September/October.

Justice Coulson’s May judgement indicted KCM for financial secrecy, historic dishonesty and attempts to pervert the course of justice, revealing that KCM have never filed any annual accounts in accordance with the Zambian Companies Act, and referring to a 2014 London arbitration case against KCM in which three judges found KCM to be dishonest, obstructive and willing to cause unnecessary harm.11

  1. Reports have detailed how twelve years of pollution by KCM has turned the river Kafue into a ‘river of acid’12 13 and left the farmers with no access to clean water. As well as suing KCM and Vedanta in the UK for personal injury and loss of livelihood due to gross pollution, the villagers are demanding that KCM de-silt and remediate the contaminated areas so they can return to normal life.

An estimated 40,000 people in total are affected by contaminated water which also affects the municipal piped water system14. A number of scientific papers have documented the extent of contamination, with acid pH and heavy metal content regularly tens and even hundreds of times above legal limits.15 16 17

One villager Judith Kapumba appears in a youtube video testifying to how contamination has destroyed their livelihood and their lives, claiming that many have ‘collapsed and died’ as a result of illnesses caused by drinking contaminated water, and that crops can no longer grow leading to starvation and extreme poverty.

11 Dominic Liswaniso Lungowe & Others v. Vedanta Resources Plc and Konkola Copper Mines Plc, 27 May 2016

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/TCC/2016/975.html

12Rivers of acid’ in Zambian villages, 8th September 2015. BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-34173746

13 Bodhan Kribek et al, 2013, Methods of environmental monitoring in mining areas:

The Zambian Copperbelt Case Story, Presentation from a training course, delivered at University of the

Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, July 13-15, 2013.

14The New Colonialism: Britain’s scramble for African energy and mineral resources. War on Want, July 2016. http://www.waronwant.org/resources/new-colonialism-britains-scramble-africas-energy-and-mineral-resources

15 Ondra Sracek et al, 2011, ‘Mining-related contamination of surface water and sediments of the Kafue River drainage system in the Copperbelt district, Zambia: An example of a high neutralization capacity system’, Journal of Geochemical Exploration, 112 (2012) 174–188.

16 Bodhan Kribek et al, 2013, Methods of environmental monitoring in mining areas: The Zambian Copperbelt Case

Story, Presentation from a training course, delivered at University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, July 13 15, 2013.