Winner of “Green Nobel” says India is plundering not protecting tribal lands – by Nita Bhalla (Daily Mail/Reuters – April 24, 2017)

NEW DELHI, April 24 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – India is plundering the land of its indigenous people to profit from mining, with little regard of the devastation caused to poor tribal communities, said an Indian land rights activist who won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize on Monday.

Prafulla Samantara, 66, from India’s eastern state of Odisha is one of six winners of the annual prize – often known as the “Green Nobel” – which honours grassroots activists for efforts to protect the environment, often at their own risk.

Samantara, recognised by the Goldman jury for winning a 12-year legal battle to stop a multi-national firm mining bauxite on tribal lands, said he was honoured by the award but voiced concern at the continued mining threats faced by India’s tribes.

“The state has a history of not honouring legal protections of indigenous people in the constitution. Corporate influence and the promise of profits continues to tempt the government to disregard indigenous people’s rights,” Samantara told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview.

“The mining-based industry has become priority for the government and the global market, but it does not support the common people. They are often led to believe that mining is for their own benefit, but then they are displaced by destructive development.”

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