Church of England withdraws from India mining project over human rights issue

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London, Feb 6 (ANI): Reports indicate that the Church of England has said that it will withdraw investment from a firm involved in a controversial mining project in the Indian state of Orissa over human rights issue.

According to a report in BBC News, the church said that it was not satisfied that the company, Vedanta, has shown enough respect for human rights.

Campaigners said that the lives of indigenous people were threatened by the mining project.

The church had a 4.1 million dollar stake in Vedanta, which runs an alumina refinery in Lanjigarh, Orissa, and is planning a bauxite mine in the nearby Niyamgiri hills.

In a statement, the church said that it would be inconsistent with its ethical investment policy to maintain its Vedanta investment.

"After six months of engagement, we are not satisfied that Vedanta has shown, or is likely in future to show, the level of respect for human rights and local communities that we expect of companies in whom the church investing bodies hold shares," said John Reynolds, the church's Ethical Investment Advisory Group Chairman.

"Our concern is that a company registered and listed in the UK should conform to the established environmental, social and governance norms expected in the London market - or at least reassure its shareholders that it is committed to the journey," he added.

The church statement said that it "understands" that the Indian government is still considering whether to give final approval for the mine project.

The decision has been welcomed by campaigning groups including Survival International (SI), which has been lobbying the church to disinvest from Vedanta for more than a year.

SI says that the bauxite mine will destroy a large part of the Niyamgiri Mountain in Orissa, damaging the lives of Kondh tribes people who live in the area.

Vedanta has been accused of forcing tribal people off the land, damaging the environment and destroying wildlife. (ANI)

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