On 24th April 2017, Prafulla Samantra was declared one of six winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize, in San Francisco. He received this prize for his “Historical 12-year legal battle that gave the indigenous Dongria Kondh’s land rights and protected the Niyamgiri Hills from a massive, open-pit aluminum ore mine.”
About Goldman Environmental Prize:
In 1990, the Goldman Environmental Prize was introduced. The objective of this prize was to honor those environmentalists who undertake risk to their lives for the cause of protecting the environment. The award is presented to six persons, each from Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands and Island Nations, North America, and South & Central America. The prize is also known as the Green Nobel.
Facts related to Social Activist Prafulla Samantra:
- Prafulla Samantra is a lawyer and is involved in activism since the Jayprakash Narayan-movement.
- He was a notable leader who was responsible for rallying tribes in Niyamgiri region of Odisha.
- He, with the help of legal orders, blocked mining-to-metals conglomerate Vedanta from setting up a bauxite mine there.
- Samantra was the first citizen to use the law to halt the mining operations of Vedanta.
- The company was forced to suspend mining of bauxite from that region due to his undying efforts.
- On April 18, 2013, Supreme Court gave the powers to the local communities to have the final say in mining projects on their land. The village councils voted against the mine.
- Vedanta announced the closure of its aluminum refinery in that region on 15 August.
- Samantra is only the sixth Indian to win the prize.
- The other Indian winners are Medha Patkar, M.C. Mehta, Rasheeda Bi, Champaran Shukla and Ramesh Agrawal.
- Mark Lopez, Uros Marcel, Rodrigo Tot, Rodrigue Katembo and Wendy Bowman are the other five prize winners of this year.