Greenwash award for Vedanta by WEF

Pamapur: An environmental management award proposed to be given to Vedanta Alumina has stirred a raging controversy as more than 100 organisations sent a letter to people listed as jurors for the award asking them to dissociate themselves from the “tainted” company and the awards granting UK charity World Environment Foundation. Vedanta Alumina“has been at the heart of a massive controversy involving violation of rights of indigenous peoples, desecration of a highly biodiverse forest and watershed, and the highly irregular lenience shown by courts and the Government to blatant violations of the law in setting up and operating the smelter,” according to the letter. The company operates an alumina refinery in Lanjigarh, and proposes to mine the bio diverse Niyamgiri hills that are sacred to the primitive Dongria Kondh tribespeople.

The website for the Awards (www.goldenpeacockawards.com/judges.htm) lists 37 eminent people as jurors, including three former Supreme Court judges, and several former and current bureaucrats. Given WEF’s past track record of listing eminent people as jurors without their consent, the letter addressed to the jurors intimated them of their status as jurors of the award and presented them with evidence about Vedanta and its subsidiaries’ dubious track record with regard to environmental management, respect for the rule of law, financial integrity and sensitivity to the rights of indigenous peoples.

The letter is accompanied by a dossier documenting the wrong-doings of the company and its sister and parent concerns. In 2007, the Norwegian Government withdrew investments of public funds from Vedanta stocks
after its Council of Ethics concluded that Vedanta and subsidiary Vedanta Alumina were involved in environmental and human rights violations. Photographic evidence included in the dossier documented Vedanta Alumina’s discharge of fly ash into the Vamsadhara River from the Lanjigarh facility. Vedanta Alumina was awarded for implementing
zero discharge at this facility. “There is zero truth in Vedanta’s claim of zero discharge,” the letter recorded. An expansion proposal by Vedanta for its Lanjigarh unit ran into severe opposition at a public hearing conducted in April 2009. The hearing had to be officially adjourned due to protests by local communities.

Vedanta subsidiary Sterlite Industries was also pulled up for setting up an unlicensed factory complex in Tuticorin. This facility functions to this day without a Consent to Establish under Air and Water Acts from the Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board, the letter said. Another subsidiary Malco Ltd was forced by the Madras High Court to shut down its illegal bauxite mines in the biodiverse Kolli Hills of Tamilnadu after a Salem-based public interest group exposed the fact that the company had been mining without licenses for nearly 10 years.

The Golden Peacock Awards 2009 is to be held in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, on 13 June, 2009, in the midst of a global convention on climate security. In a glaring conflict of interest, Vedanta is listed as a sponsor to many of the events orchestrated by organisers of the award in the past.

In January 2009, WEF withdrew the Golden Peacock Award given to Satyam Computers last September, literally days before the company submitted its fraudulent balance sheet to shareholders. “We do not expect any integrity from the organisers of the Golden Peacock Awards. However, many of the jury members are persons of good reputation and integrity. We are concerned that your decision may have been arrived at in the absence of full information. We would also like to give you an opportunity to review some disturbing information regarding the conduct of Vedanta and its subsidiaries, and to dissociate yourselves from the award to Vedanta to avoid a Satyam-style embarrassment,” endorsers to the letter to jurors wrote.

Annexure 1 – Vamsadhara toxic dump in Lanjigarh

Letter to the Juror, Golden Peakok Award, 2009 Final

Submission to HP Govt 2003

Governance Lessons from India’s Satyam – BusinessWeek

Norvegian ethics council report on Vedanta

2 Comments

  • I would
    like to submit that the story is factually incorrect and misleading.

    I can say this because I was present when this woman who calls herself
    Mamta Dash rushed to the ground with some of her cronies to sabotage
    the launch of global human chain which was organised to combat change
    in climate. Event had nothing to do with the Golden Peacock Awards.
    This was a gathering of some 10,000 women and school children who were
    assembled on the university grounds to pledge the PROACTIVATE, an 11
    point model which emphasises pricing of natural capital in the balance
    sheet, radically increasing efficiency of the natural resource, opting
    for minimalists life styles, adopting zero waste systems, cutting
    carbon emissions, turning to renewables, investing in green issues and
    innovating business models to promote experiential growth as suppose
    to acquisional growth, vigorously pursuing market mechanisms to punish
    polluters, activating women and children to drive the change, training
    people to eco-innovate and focusing on execution. The organisers
    showed extraordinary patience in dealing with Ms Mamta Dash in one of
    the most extraordinary gestures shown by Dr Madhav Mehra. He invited
    all those disrupters to join them in the dias so that they could be
    given due publicity to their point of view.

    It was learnt that their main grievance was about the selection of
    Vedanta for the award. They were told that the Vedanta was not
    included in the list of awards of being presented as they have not
    responded to the queries raised by the juries. Despite this Mamta and
    her cronies continued to create havoc on the dias which is visible
    from the various photographs, behaved most violently and abused all
    the delegates including distinguished speakers from abroad. She
    shouted, threatened and intimated at the school children saying that
    they will be sent to prison for participating in the global human
    chain. These children have spent months to prepare their presentations
    as how they can help bring down global warming and how PROACTIVATE to
    save the planet.

    We all are convinced that Mamata Dash is an extremely unbalanced
    person who is a threat to the environment and appeared to be an agent
    of one of the rival corporates of Vedanta. They were told Vedanta was
    not being given the award. he function they disrupted was no tan award
    function but launch of a Global Human Chain already done so
    successfylly in Bangalore. Thier job was simply to vandalise the place
    and terrorise children. They vanished soon after Dr Madhav Mehra took
    the floor. Dr Mehra, the greatest son of the Himachal made a most
    eloquent, thought provoking and insightful speech that lasted 45
    minutes and showed his extraordinary qualities of head and heart. It
    was heard with pin drop silence by all. He explained how he he was
    trying to create a new world where businesses would become the drivers
    of social change and environmental agenda and where prosperity will be
    equitably shared by everyone. He said it was possible through
    PROACTIVATE .

    It must be noted that Golden Peacock Awards brought a change on
    industry mindset in a way that you can only understand if you were one
    of 300 participants and listened to the presentations of 55 top
    companies and experts on how they were reducing carbon emissions. All
    the participants are convinced that this so called environmental group
    has done the greatest damage to environmental cause. They insulted,
    pushed , shoved and mocked foreign guests.

    Please be advised that the report of Ravinder Sood on this issue filed on the net is false and fictitious.

    These hooligans are a disgrace to our society and menace to environment and danger to our Republic. God save us from such environmentalists who damaged the very cause of Kondh they were supposed to protect and for whom they receive
    foreign funds. It is the job of each right thinking person to condemn
    them.

    All claims of support for this so called environmental group with
    which they scared the Himachal Government are false and fraudulent.
    Mamata claims she has support of two hundred organisations and has
    their signed endoresement. In her email she gives only 117 names but
    most are christian first names. All this has also turned out fraud.
    None has come to support her let alone sign the petition. Many
    ‘organisations’ are shown by just a christian name. It is for Himachal
    government to apologise to organsers for cancelling their particpation
    at the last minute. Think if you were in Dr Mehra’s position would you
    make the same effort again tobring such distinguished scientists,
    experts and investors again to a town which has so meagre resources .
    A number had to return from Delhi back to their country because they
    could not get onward flights from Delhi to Dharamsala.

    We would like to know what action your organsiation proposes to take
    against Mamata Dash and her cronies for posing as your members and as
    had core environmentalists and spoiling your reputation, reputation
    of himachal and ruining careers and lives of people of Palampur who
    were denied opportunity of interaction with investors. Worst hit are
    the students who had treaded from far off villages to pledge
    PROACTIVATE and read essays. Selected students were being given free
    trip abroad which they all missed.

    I would like to remind you that being a signatory of INGO
    Accountability Charter, you have a responsibility to be ethical in
    reporting.

    I shall be grateful if this letter is published in your newseletter.

    Yours sincerely

    Rekha Kapur
    Environment Protection Forum
    Kangra
    Himachal Pradesh

  • well, i totally disagree with the material written above. DR. Mehra, has risen above the local politics and brought Palampur, a considerable place, on the international map. jealousy speaking!
    I was personally present their to witness the failed attempt by certain people,who i assume were payed to turn the grand event into a debacle, but sadly so nothing really conceptualized, to much of their disappointment .
    Being a local, it ashamed me to see the disgraceful behaviour. That does not stop me from writing that these people were not more than a handful. ten or fifteen at the most. This speaks for itself.

    Stutee Nag

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