An iconic leader of social justice movements in India, Prafulla Samantara led a historic 12-year legal battle against a massive, British-operated open-pit aluminum ore mine in India’s breathless Niyamgiri Hills, home to the endangered Bengal tiger.
Prafulla dedicated his life to alerting the Indigenous community to UK-based Vedanta Resources’ plans to destroy 1,660 acres of untouched forest land in order to extract more than 70 million tons of bauxite, the primary ore in aluminium, polluting critical water sources in the process. He walked, biked and travelled for miles from village to village among the Indigenous Dongria Kondh to build resistance to this destructive mine.
The Niyamgiri Hills are home to the endangered Bengal tiger and serve as an important migration corridor for elephants. More than 100 streams flow down from the peaks, providing a critical water source for millions of people. The Dongria Kondh are an 8,000-member Indigenous tribe with deep connection to the surrounding environment.
After almost a decade of marches, resistance and court filings, the Indian Supreme Court sided with Prafulla, leaving the Niyamgiri Hills’ future safely in the Dongria Kondh’s hands.