Real-Life Avatar Unfolds in India

Tribe battles to stop mining of their sacred mountain
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2010 9:21 AM CST
Neytiri, voiced by Zoe Saldana, left, and Jake, voiced by Sam Worthington are shown in a scene from "Avatar."   (AP Photo/20th Century Fox)
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(Newser) – Take away the six-legged lemurs, the banshees, and the moon of Pandora, and the plot of Avatar sounds a lot like the mining battle playing out in real life in the Indian state of Orissa. There, indigenous tribespeople are fighting to stop a mining company from extracting bauxite from the forested mountain they consider sacred.

While the fight to save the Na'vi's Tree of Souls is a straight-up case of good vs. evil, the standoff between the Dongria Kondh people and the Vedanta mining firm is more complex. International investors including the Church of England have dropped their shares in Vedanta over ethical concerns about the Dongria Kondh's sacred mountain, but the Indian government says industrial development like mining is desperately needed in the impoverished region, reports Reuters.

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