Winner of the 2017 Goldman Environmental Prize for Asia: Prafulla Samantara
Date Written: 02/05/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21671
Prafulla Samantara, winner of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for his relentless efforts, has made it his life's work to fight injustice by lending a voice to Indigenous communities and small scale farmers.
The $2 billion open-pit mine would extract more than 70 million tons of bauxite and destroy an estimated 1,660 acres of forest. New roads would be built to reach the mine, making the forest an easy target for loggers and poachers. It could also pollute the water for millions of people, he says. "It's an important water source to non-tribal areas too. The two rivers Bansadhara and Nagaballi are fed with water from these hills. There are 36 natural streams feeding these two rivers."
He knew the tribes had no way of knowing about the plans and set out to tell them. When they didn't believe him, he travelled from village to village across the hills to talk to the leaders. But his opponents were right behind him and he was intimidated, threatened and eventually kidnapped by people he suspects were hired by the mining company.