The U.K.’s Opposition, Labour Party, has called for billionaire Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Resources Plc. to be delisted from the London Stock Exchange following the death of 13 people during violent protests against the mining giant in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu.
“After the massacre of the protestors this week, regulators must now take action. Vedanta must be immediately delisted from the London Stock Exchange to remove its cloak of respectability, restore confidence in the governance of the stock exchange, and prevent further reputational damage to London's financial markets from this rogue corporation,” John McDonnell, the U.K.’s Shadow Chancellor, said in a statement on Friday.
The news from Tamil Nadu that 13 protestors against Vedanta have been killed is shocking and demands action. This is a major multinational company that for years has operated illegal mining concerns, trashing the environment and forcibly evicting local peopleJohn McDonnell, U.K. Shadow Chancellor
At least 13 people were killed, and several injured in police firing as the months-long protests in Tuticorin against the closure of Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper unit turned violent earlier this week. Locals had been demanding closure of the copper smelter for allegedly polluting the area causing severe health problems for residents, besides the depleting groundwater table.
The statement from the senior Labour MP came as protesters were preparing to stage a protest against Vedanta outside the Indian High Commission in London on Saturday afternoon. McDonnel highlighted that campaigners and international organisations like Amnesty International have accused Vedanta of a string of human rights and environmental abuses in India, Zambia and across the globe.
Hundreds of protesters mobilised by groups such as Foil Vedanta, Tamil People in the U.K., Periyar Ambedkar Study Circle, South Asia Solidarity Group, Tamil Solidarity, Parai Voice of Freedom and Veera Tamilar Munnani will stage protests to condemn the Tamil Nadu state government's “collusion” in what the groups have termed as “corporate massacre”.
Samarendra Das from Foil Vedanta also urged the U.K. government to investigate and delist this company. “For 15 years since Vedanta's London listing we have been warning the British government that this criminal company is undermining democracy across India and in Zambia whilst gaining a 'cloak of respectability' from London,” Das told PTI. “This corporate massacre on a peaceful environmental movement must be the last straw”.
Vedanta Resources' subsidiary Sterlite Copper is constructing a new 4 million tonne per annum smelter on the edge of the town of Tuticorin, nearly doubling its existing capacity. Residents argue the existing smelter has continuously polluted their water and air since it was established in 1996. They claim it has led to respiratory and skin problems, fainting and other illness, especially among children.
Activists also claim that Sterlite obtained its environmental clearance illegally by falsifying information to statutory authorities, while the existing plant is regularly found to be dumping toxic waste in the town, and operating without proper licenses.
Sterlite was the first company set up by Agarwal in India before he launched Vedanta Resources on the London Stock Exchange in 2003. Vedanta is now a multinational FTSE 250 company with operations across India and Africa.
Vedanta has previously denied that the smelter has been responsible for air and water pollution. The company said it is working with authorities to restore power to the plant, which has been offline since late March.