Open, ongoing and organised dialogue contributes significantly to trust and transparency, which is a vital ingredient of a successful partnership. At Vedanta, we believe that such partnerships with stakeholders, with a focus on 'development where it matters most' can lead to economic, environmental and social well-being.
Diverse stakeholders necessitate varied modes of engagement. So, we deploy a range of engagement channels based on the nature of the stakeholder segment. These include public hearings to one-on-one discussions, information disclosures to feedback forms, and participatory sessions to satisfaction surveys, with a view to understand stakeholder expectations, aligning their interests and updating them on our intentions and actions.
All stakeholder engagements are anchored by our social responsibility performance standards with an aim to transform relationships into partnerships, provide adequate grievance mechanisms to help resolve situations of potential conflict and enhanced interaction with vulnerable communities such as indigenous people.
Ask Answer Analyse Align Act
Our dialogue begins with questions that solicit feedback. Our stakeholders have access to a number of platforms to reach out to Vedanta personnel and voice concerns. We disclose not just because we want to be heard, but because we are responsible. We aim to provide a constructive response to feedback received. We have established a robust investigation process for complaints reported via the whistleblowing mechanism, sustainability ID and group communications ID, involving senior management and relevant personnel. We work hand-in-hand with stakeholders and align our goals and actions with their highpriority areas. The feedback from all our engagement becomes part of our materiality identification process. We back up our words with demonstrable actions that move the needle towards promised outcomes.
Our Group-level Stakeholder Engagement Standards have been formulated with an aim of ensuring effective and efficient engagement across multiple industries and geographies where we operate. Stakeholder identification and engagement analysis is done every year and the channels and periodicity of engagement for the identified stakeholders are updated to meet the changing requirements on the ground.
Local expectations are identified, impacts monitored, and engagement plans are finalised and implemented, with regular reviews and revisions. Dedicated stakeholder representatives facilitate stakeholder engagement at all our operations.
The engagement mechanism has become integral to our sustainable development approach and helps us:
1 Identify, categorise and engage stakeholders across the project life cycle for each business
2 Determine engagement modes and frequency for each stakeholder
3 Disclose information in a timely manner
4 Implementation of interventions in consultation with stakeholders
At Vedanta, we employ formal and informal channels to engage with our stakeholders. Each department is responsible for ensuring effective engagement with their primary internal and external stakeholders during their daily business functioning.
Vedanta has developed several communication channels to ensure that information about evolving ground realities reaches the organisation's decision-makers in a timely manner and the stand of the Company on an issue is communicated to all the internal stakeholders. We keep all lines of engagement open with our employees as well as contract workforce.
Communication channels such as Chairman's workshops, town hall meetings, daily leadership update forums, HSE Leadership and Sustainability Steering Committee meetings, site-level risk sub-committees, employee engagement surveys, and the various engagement forums at site - both formal and informal, allow us to keep a constant finger on the pulse of our internal stakeholders.
Teams from across our businesses engage with our external stakeholders over various platforms.
Local Communities
The CSR teams across our businesses have the primary responsibility of overseeing our engagement with local communities. Stakeholder Engagement Teams and Grievance Cells have been formed so that members of the local community can bring their grievances and suggestions to the Company. In the event of plant expansions, the HSE and CSR teams are mandated with conducting public hearings for the Environmental & Social Impact Assessment process.
Our Investor Relations (IR) team interacts with our investors and rating agencies and when appropriate, directs their queries to the relevant departments. In FY 2017-18, the IR team received several enquiries from our investors about our sustainable business practices and in coordination with our HSE & Sustainability teams ensured that all of them were resolved to the satisfaction of the investors.
Media and Industry Associations
The Corporate Communication team is primarily responsible for any engagement with the media and with industry bodies such as Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), and the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM). The team is also responsible for connecting with our stakeholders via regular and social media platforms.
Vendors, Contractors and Suppliers
Vendors, contractors, and suppliers form a large component of our external stakeholders and our Commercial team is empowered to manage and communicate with them. In FY 2017-18, the team organised several capacity building sessions for our large vendors, in our on-going commitment to help them comply with the requirements of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
Governmental Ministries and Regulators
Multiple teams across each business are responsible for engaging with Governmental Ministries and regulators on specific issues. Our Legal, HSE and on-site teams are responsible for engaging with regulators such as the District Administration, Ministry of Environment and Forests, State and Central Pollution Control Boards, and the Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS) among others. In addition, the CEO's Office along with identified ExCo members are responsible for engaging with senior government functionaries in the respective line ministries. The office also engages with ministries through industry associations on industry-specific policy matters.
Engagement is a two-way process. To facilitate easy communication with the group we have created two simple points of contact- dedicated public email addresses -, and for all queries regarding the Vedanta Group and its Companies.
Our Sustainability Team is also the single point of contact for all emails and correspondence related to our sustainable development initiatives, received by corporate functions like Corporate Communications and Investor Relations teams. Feedback received through our website, sustainability and annual reports, and all other modes, is recorded to review and revise our stakeholder engagement performance. Eventually, all these serve as valuable inputs in our materiality identification exercise.
We also utilise every opportunity available to share our view, whether it is industry associations, meeting with governments, media, community, NGOs or any other external stakeholder. In-house journals and newsletters along with social media is used to engage and interact with internal stakeholders.
Our social licence to operate was challenged this year by communities living around our Sterlite Copper Plant in Tuticorin. The protests were based on misinformation around the perceived pollution caused by the plant. The fears stem from historic incidents, for which the company received legal sanctions in 2013. However, it has since taken corrective and progressive measures to ensure that incidents of pollution are not repeated.

  • Our SO2 levels are well within the prescribed national limits

  • Dust extraction allows capturing of fugitive emissions, which goes through scrubbing

  • Continuous air emissions monitoring system that reports data to TNPCB in real-time

  • Being a zero liquid discharge plant, no effluents pollute local water sources

Some facts:
Sterlite Copper has been operating in Tuticorin for the last twenty years
Produces approximately 1/3rd of the country's present demand for copper
Since 2010, contributed approximately USD 1.7 million (INR 110 billion) to the state exchequer
Provided direct and indirect employment to around 4,000 people
Till date, we have invested more than USD 77 million (INR 5 billion) in environment measures
Till date, we have invested USD 13 million (INR 850 billion) in social development measures covering 88 villages of Tuticorin
Leveraging technology to ensure operations are safe for employees and communities
Hazardous waste is transferred to a secure landfill as guided by the CPCB guidelines
Before plant was shut, it was operating well within regulatory limits for air emissions
In 2013, the Honourable Supreme Court of India, asked us to deposit INR 1 billion with the District Collector. The money was to be used for remedial actions in case of any environmental damage due to the plant's operations. Till date, more than 90% of those funds remain un-utilised. After the 2013 verdict, we have implemented all 30 recommendations made by NEERI. We have also taken action on the 15 directions given by the National Green Tribunal.
We understand that pollution will remain a key issue in the region, which is an industry cluster with more than 60 manufacturing units (including thermal power plants, dyeing units, and other large, medium and small-scale industries), and we would like to play a key role in reaching longterm solutions that incorporate the views of all stakeholders.
We are deeply saddened by the shootings that occurred during in front of the District Collector's office (located 9 Km away from the plant) the protests of 22nd May 2018. The police in India and in Tuticorin are independent and they were responding to a very fast-changing situation. We had no role to play in the decisions taken by the police on that day. A much under-reported story was that the protestors attacked the homes and property of our employees, many of them saw their vehicles damaged and set ablaze. This is a situation that we would never like to see repeated. We remain open to sit and negotiate with the community on how to move forward amicably and within the legal framework. We remain hopeful for a positive outcome for all stakeholders.