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More reasons to be ashamed of India’s failed state governance – Orissa [Part I: Vedanta Toxic Waste Dump Protest]

February 1, 2012

Amnesty International recently released video of adivasi protesters being “cleared off” land that belongs to them.

I was going to write about Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich and the hilarity that is the GOP primary, and I will next week, perhaps. But politics as fodder, for entertainment is not available to me this week. It’s difficult to find meaning or even novelty in the impotent outrage and disgust that envelopes me.

The women and children shown in the video below have been charged with murder and inciting a riot. It took an army with weapons and shields to beat them down.

Via Amnesty International

“The Indian authorities have remained silent on the issues of cleaning up the refinery and monitoring the health of local communities. They must act on this now,” he added.

The refinery and its red mud pond, which have been in operation for four years, does not meet national or international standards in relation to its environmental, social and human rights impact.

The red mud pond, which collects toxic waste by-products from the refinery, covers an area of approximately 38 hectares. The pond is full to the brim and suffered serious leaks during last year’s monsoons.

The latest high court verdict means that Vedanta cannot circumvent conditions issued by India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), stipulating that plans for expansion of the refinery should go through a fresh environmental and social impact assessment and a public hearing process.

Residents of 12 villages who live in the shadow of the massive refinery – mostly Majhi Kondh Adivasi (Indigenous) and Dalit communities who rely on agriculture for their livelihoods – have long campaigned against the expansion.

Residents of Rengopalli, one of the 12 villages, have been campaigning against the Orissa state authorities’ decision to take over one of their two access roads to complete the construction of a second red mud pond for the refinery.

“The state authorities must immediately consult with the affected communities about the potential impact of constructing a second red mud pond,” Ramesh Gopalakrishnan said.

Read the whole thing here.

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