Bhubaneswar, April 27: An iconic leader of social justice movements, Prafulla Samantara Indian environmental activist of Odisha won Goldman Environmental Prize amongst the six territories across the world. He is the sixth India man to win this prize also called the 'Green Nobel’.
The Goldman Environmental Prize honors grassroots environmental heroes from the world’s six inhabited continental regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands & Island Nations, North America, and South & Central America. The Prize recognizes individuals for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk.
The Goldman Prize views “grassroots” leaders as those involved in local efforts, where positive change is created through community or citizen participation in the issues that affect them. Through recognizing these individual leaders, the Prize seeks to inspire other ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the natural world.
Samantara won for championing the cause of Odisha's Dongria Kondh tribals and safeguarding their land and culture. He had led the 12-years legal historic battle that affirmed the indigenous Dongria Kondh's land rights and protected the Niyamgiri Hills in Odisha from a massive, open-pit aluminum ore mine to be set up by Vedanta Resources.
Samantara’s cases helped to establish a precedent authorizing local village councils throughout the country to decide on mining activities in their regions, giving them control over their land, lives, and destinies.
Previous Indian Goldman Environmental Prizes are Medha Patkar, M.C. Mehta, Rashida Bi and Champa Devi Shukla (jointly) and Ramesh Aggarwal.
The other winners of 2017 are Uros Macerl from Slovenia, mark! Lopez from the US, Rodrigo Tot of Guatemala, Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo of Democratic Republic of Congo and Wendy Bowman of Australia.