Workers riot at Vedanta refinery in India

NEW DELHI — Thousands of workers in India ransacked the offices of a refinery run by British resource giant Vedanta, media reports said Thursday, in the latest of a series of difficulties for the company.

About 35 contract workers were arrested after buildings were attacked at the aluminium refinery at Lanjigarh in the eastern state of Orissa on Tuesday.

Vedanta received a major setback last month when its plans for a mine to supply the Lanjigarh refinery with bauxite were blocked by the government as the land was sacred to local tribes.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh accused Vedanta, owned by Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal, of violating environmental rules and showing “blatant disregard” for thousands of Dongria and Kutia Kondh tribespeople.

Ramesh also accused Vedanta of starting a six-fold expansion of the aluminium project without approval.

The violence at the refinery was due to Vedanta cancelling short-term staff contracts related to its expansion plans, the Economic Times reported.

The refinery was forced to halt work when 2,000 protesting workers carrying sticks and sharp objects cut off the power supply, the paper said.

Vedanta chief operating officer Mukesh Kumar estimated 200,000 dollars of property had been damaged by the protests.

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