By Alastair Lawson
The idea that there could be any connection between one of India's most remote and inaccessible areas and the Church of England seems improbable, at first glance.
High in the monsoon mists in eastern India, witch doctors in the Niyamgiri hills still make sacrifices to the gods and tribes believe the hills are sacred.
It is a world away from the quiet corridors of Church House - the headquarters of the Church of England in London.
But campaigners say that the lives of indigenous people in India are under threat because of a mining project involving a UK company, in which the Church of England has a £2.5m ($4.1m) stake.
The church has been condemned by campaign groups such as ActionAid and Survival International for investing in the Vedanta company, which is about to start mining bauxite -used for making aluminium - to feed what could become one of the world's biggest refineries nearby.
We don't need a foreign multinational to move into our area and promise jobs and development that are not required.
The company, Vedanta, is also accused of forcing tribal people off the land, damaging the environment and destroying wildlife.
All this on the face of it is highly embarrassing for the Church, which is why its Ethical Investment Advisory Group spokesman Edward Mason chooses his words carefully as he explains that there are no plans at present to withdraw the investment in Vedanta.
"For certain sensitive industries such as mining companies we have a three-year monitoring and engagement process," he said.
"Where we have concerns that standards do not conform to norms of corporate behaviour we prefer to talk to them and bring about change that way."
The church acknowledges that the allegations are "serious".
ActionAid has brought over a member of the Dongria Kondh tribal community to London, to make the case against the mine at Vedanta's annual general meeting in London on Monday. A single share has been bought to enable Sitaram Kulisika to speak at the meeting.
He argues that the mining plans will endanger his community's livelihood.
Full Article Here