Monday 24 April 2017

Goldman Prize for Prafulla Samantra, the activist who blocked Vedanta's Niyamgiri mine

Goldman Prize for Prafulla Samantra, the activist who blocked (अवरुद्ध) Vedanta's Niyamgiri mine

Social activist Prafulla Samantra was announced one of six winners of the Goldman Environmental
Prize, in San Francisco, Monday. The prize citation(उदाहरण) said this was for his "...historic 12-year legal battle that affirmed the indigenous(स्वदेशी) Dongria Kondh’s land rights and protected the Niyamgiri Hills from a massive, open-pit aluminum ore mine." Mr. Samantra was one of the key leaders responsible for rallying tribes, indigenous to Odisha's Niyamgiri region, and using legal provisions to thwart mining-to-metals conglomerate(समूह), Vedanta. The company has been forced to suspend plans to mine bauxite.

Trained as a lawyer and involved in activism "since the Jayprakash Narayan-movement" Mr. Samantara said that he would continue his work to ensure that politics play more than lip service in ensuring sustainable development." We must have a national mining policy to rationally (तर्कसंगत रूप से) decide how much of our natural resources can be used for mining," he told The Hindu in an interview prior to Monday's announcement.

The annual prize honours grassroot environmentalists, who undergo risk to their lives, to protect the environment and empower those who have most to lose from industrial projects threatening their traditional livelihood.

Other winners this year include Mark Lopez, United States; Uroš Macerl, Slovenia; Rodrigo Tot, Guatemala; Rodrigue Katembo, Democratic Republic of Congo; and Wendy Bowman, Australia.

Since 1990 when the awards were first instituted, five Indians — Medha Patkar, M.C. Mehta, Rasheeda Bi, Champaran Shukla and Ramesh Agrawal — have won the prize. Mr. Samantra will be the sixth.

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