Vedanta is committed to protecting human rights in all its operations and the communities in which it operates. We ensure that all our businesses comply with all applicable regulations and we strive to uphold all labour rights. We ensure that we are fully aligned with a host of national and international regulations. All non-supervisory employees have union representation, and we meet with union representatives at all sites to discuss their concerns and seek to reach win-win solutions. These regular dialogues include discussions of matters such as remuneration, allowances, service conditions and employee health and safety. Our Copper India, VAL Lanjigarh and Jharsuguda sites do not have any non-supervisory staff.
We communicate all applicable policy and operational changes to all our employee representatives across our operations. Health and safety is covered under long-term settlements with the trade unions, and compliance is stringently monitored throughout the Group. Our Code of Conduct clearly states that we will operate in compliance with all laws and regulations, including protection of the fundamental human rights of all our employees and that no breach of human rights will occur within our sphere of influence. As part of the metal and mining industry, Vedanta fully supports the principles of the ICMM.
We train all employees on basic human rights as a part of our organisation’s Code of Conduct. We have processes in place to evaluate and monitor our operations for risks related to child and forced labour. We apply zero tolerance to child labour and forced labour, and this is emphasised in our Code of Conduct. The majority of risks arise through contractual labour, but we have put controls in place, such as stringent record-keeping, gate passes and ID proofs of age, that ensure no such breaches can occur. No incidents of any form of discrimination against any employee were reported.The company intends to protect the fundamental rights of communities, as is reflected in its resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) framework and the CSR policy. Where resettlement is required, initiatives are planned in conjunction with the affected communities and local authorities. Public consultation channels are strictly followed to gauge the needs of the communities and address any concerns. VAL has constructed a resettlement colony for displaced families that has physical (roads, drainage, electricity, water supply etc) and social (like schools, child care centres, temples, play grounds etc) infrastructure in place. One member of each displaced family will have either been provided with direct employment in VAL or have received a one-off compensation grant made in lieu of employment. In all, 75 people from among the displaced families are currently employed directly with VAL Lanjigarh. Currently, 74 people from 145 displaced families are employed directly with VAL Jharsuguda, the remaining 71 having opted for the cash grant.
All land is acquired as per the Land Acquisition Act 1984. As a policy, the company takes into account the views of all adjoining communities through appropriate stakeholder consultation. In the event of any grievances concerning resettlement and rehabilitation, the company works with the Rehabilitation and Peripheral Development Advisory Committee (RPDAC), chaired by the Revenue Divisional Commissioner, to ensure it is addressed appropriately.
Sustaining cohesive existence
Our work with indigenous peoples like the Dongria Kondhs and the Kutia Kondhs at Lanjigarh has been tailored to satisfy their needs and cultural integrity, with the focus of attention on health and sanitation. Health was primarily preventive and curative through our MHUs and awareness camps. The sanitation drives were instrumental in ensuring a clean environment in individual homes and the community at large. Child care centres were also opened in the remotest villages for the overall development of children, providing nutritious food and a robust curriculum for learning. Women working at home and outdoors were happy to leave leaving their children at the centre. Taking this a step further, the women were also trained on aspects of sanitation and hygiene during our daily interactions.
Empowering men and women through self help groups (SHGs) has helped them to develop new means of earning a living and to enhance their area of expertise. Projects including the construction of waterharvesting structures, irrigation channels and lift irrigation points have led to managing natural resources better. They practice traditional farming techniques with advice from VAL on best agricultural practices. This unique combination has helped to supplement traditional cropping patterns with unique initiatives of ‘Shasya Shilpa Abhiyan’ (commercial vegetable cultivation), helping them to enhance their income by introducing cash crops.
Furthermore, Vedanta is in constant touch with the Dongria Kondh Development Agency (DKDA) to actively associate itself in developing the resources of the Dongria Kondh, including enhancing their quality of life and conserving their culture. The DKDA, an agency of the Government of Orissa has developed a comprehensive plan to address these objectives, which forms a part of India’s National Eleventh Five-year Plan running from 2007 to 2012. This plan is based on priorities identified by the Gram Sabhas (councils of local villagers) of 62 village resettlements and in consultation with the local NGOs as well as anthropologists familiar with the Dongria Kondh.