Mining magnet Vedanta Resources, promoted by billionaire Anil Agarwal, faced humiliation after the Golden Peacock award for environmental management was withdrawn after protestors spoke of its poor environment record.
Vedanta was among the 25 companies to be awarded by the London-based think tank World Environment Foundation (WEF).
Protestors barged into a climate change convention organized by WEF in Palampur, in Himachal Pradesh, last week. They denounced Vedanta’s poor environment record in Orissa.
Government pollution inspectors have commented on the ‘alarming’ and ‘continuous’ seepage of toxic waste from the its aluminum refinery.
Orissa’s Kondh tribe living near the refinery have told Survival International, an NGO, that they have had skin problems after bathing in the polluted water and also their cattle have died after drinking water from polluted streams.
Adding that dust from the refinery has choked their crops.
Mamata Dash, a demonstrator, said: “We now have 200 endorsements of our letter [denouncing Vedanta’s award] in a short time, which shows that people are reacting to Vedanta’s adverse effects.” The letter was also present to the organisers.
After hearing the demonstrators, the event organizers decided to withhold the award.
The environmentalists had earlier persuaded Himachal Chief Minister P.K. Dumal to stay away from the event.
Ashok Kapur, a retired IAS official and one of the organisers, said the demonstration was a job of Vedanta’s rivals. “We have nothing to do with Vedanta. They were one of the 200 applicants for the award. The demonstrators were paid hooligans,” he said.
Vedanta Resources, meanwhile, had energetically publicised its receipt of the award — supported by climate change activist Al-Gore — sponsored by the WEF and the UK’s Institute of Directors.