Two years ago UK-listed Vedanta Resources plc was awarded India’s “Golden Peacock ” 2007 prize for best practices in training. That event failed to ruffle many feathers, nor was doubt cast on the organisation making the award – the so-called World Environment Foundation (WEF) based in the UK. Nonetheless, an article in The Observer newspaper of May 2003 had strongly challenged the WEF’s legitimacy and the credentials of its founder, Mr Madhav Mehra. See:
Things were very different this year, however, in the run-up to the 2009 Golden Peacock event. Vedanta was once again nominated – this time for supposedly achieving “zero discharge” from its Lanjigarh alumina refinery in Orissa. This aroused intense ire from various Indian and overseas individuals and groups. They poured scorn on such a misguided decision, backing it with a solid dossier of information on the company’s environmental violations. After demonstrators took over the plinth prior to the Golden Peacock ceremony on June 13th, the award was withdrawn by the organisers. Some supposed “jurors” said they knew nothing about the selection of Vedanta. A high-profile Tibetan leader walked out early on, while the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh refused to attend.
The WEF had organised a group of local school children as a “human chain” to lend colour to the event. But, when the protestors began delivering the case against Vedanta, many of them cheered. No doubt they weren’t the only ones.
[Comment by Nostromo Research, 17 June 2009] .