A protest organised by Foil Vedanta will take place outside the British mining company Vedanta’s annual general meeting demanding that Vedanta subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines publish its secret annual accounts in Zambia.
The protesters – 600 farmers, fishermen and former miners living downstream of Vedanta’s Konkola Copper Mines are accusing the company of pollution, human rights abuses and financial mismanagement in India and Africa, and will hold parallel protests in Zambia, India and London, demanding an end to twelve years of pollution by the copper, which has turned the Kafue into a ‘river of acid, leaving them with no access to clean water.
The villagers are also suing Konkola and Vedanta in the UK for personal injury and loss of livelihood due to gross pollution, having won a precedent London jurisdiction hearing in May. An estimated 40,000 people in total are affected by contaminated water which also affects the municipal piped water systems.
“Vedanta KCM has polluted our only water source since 2004. We feel weak and sick from drinking contaminated water and eating the fish but we have no choice. Relatives are dying mysteriously and we know it is the pollution. Each day they continue with impunity, cheating the government that they are controlling pollution but they are not. We want to live in peace, harmony and good health. KCM Vedanta must stop polluting us and clean up their mess,” said Simon Mwila, a protester, claimant and Fikolongo village headman.
A number of scientific papers have documented the extent of contamination, with acid pH and heavy metal content often hundreds of times above legal limits.
The damning audits of Konkola in 2014 have seen the Zambian government entity ZCCM-IH which owns 20.6% of Konkola also filing a case against Konkola and Vedanta in London for $100 million owed on a 2013 settlement.