Last week’s conclusion by a UK government agency that Vedanta Resources has violated guidelines laid down by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) is certainly significant. It serves to confirm claims by numerous critics, inside and outside India,  that this UK outfit is a “serial” offender against human rights. On 19 December 2008, London-based Survival International lodged a complaint with the OECD’s UK National Contact Point (NCP).  In commendable detail, the NGO demonstrated that Vedanta’s plan to construct a huge bauxite mine on the Nyamgiri hills in Orissa, would violate legal provisions for the resident Dongria Khonds. Now, the NCP has ruled that the company dismally failed in this respect. The process for hearing allegations against companies under the OECD guidelines has been criticised as too drawn-out and inconclusive. Only one minerals company has previously been found guility of violations in the past by the UK NCP. This time, however, judgment was both swift and unequivocal. Vedanta didn’t provide any evidence to counter Survival’s complaint – an “own goal” which might have hastened proceedings and sharpened the NCP’s conclusions. The NCP has called on Vedanta to now “change its behaviour.” However, the OECD guidelines are voluntary. If the British government really intends that company alter its ways (blithe hope though that may be) it will have to do more than issue mere exhortations. [Comment by Nostromo Research, 12 October 2009]
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