Social activist Prafulla Samantra was on 24 April 2017 selected for the Goldman Environmental Prize 2017 from Asia Region for his historic twelve year long legal battle that affirmed the land rights of indigenous Dongria Kondh and protected the Niyamgiri Hills from a massive aluminum ore mine.
He was among the six winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize or Green Nobel Prize. The other five winners for this year are: Mark Lopez (United States); Uroš Macerl (Slovenia); Rodrigo Tot (Guatemala); Rodrigue Katembo (Democratic Republic of Congo); and Wendy Bowman (Australia).
Samantara is only the sixth Indian to win the prize after Medha Patkar, M.C. Mehta, Rasheeda Bi, Champaran Shukla and Ramesh Agrawal since 1990 when the award was first instituted.
About Prafulla Samantra
Prafulla Samantra is a trained lawyer and has been involved in environmental activism since the Jayprakash Narayan-movement.
He was an iconic leader responsible for rallying tribes in Niyamgiri region of Odisha and made use of legal provisions to prevent mining-to-metals conglomerate Vedanta from running the mine in the area. He even filed a petition against the project before a Supreme Court panel on mining.
Vedanta was later forced to suspend plans to mine bauxite since then only after the fruitful efforts of Prafulla Samantra.
Moreover, he is also fighting against POSCO, the South Korean steel company whose proposed iron and steel plant in Jagatsinhpur district of Odisha has run into similar problems as of Vedanta's.
About Goldman Environmental Prize
• The Goldman Environmental Prize was created in 1990 to honour grassroots environmentalists undertaking risk of their lives for the cause of protecting the environment.
• The award is given to six persons every year- one each from six geographical regions of the world, namely, Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands and Island Nations, North America, and South & Central America.
• The prize is given by Goldman Environmental Foundation of San Francisco. The prize is also known as the Green Nobel.
When: 24 April 2017