The Supreme Court in London has ruled in favour of 1,826 Zambians farmers in a major landmark decision, allowing the claimants to have their pollution case against Konkola Copper Mines Plc heard in the UK to seek compensatory damages.

According to statement issued by Foil Vedanta, Wednesday, the Supreme Court announced its verdict to allow the aggrieved claimants pursue their matter in a UK court jurisdiction.

Foil Vedanta, a London-based NGO, are an independent grassroots solidarity organization focused raising awareness on the activities of Indian mining giant, Vedanta Resources Plc, KCM’s parent company.

“The Supreme Court today announced its verdict in the landmark case of the Zambian communities consistently polluted by Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), a subsidiary of British miner Vedanta Resources Plc, allowing them to have their case against the parent company and its subsidiary tried in the UK. The ruling sets a strong legal precedent, which will allow people with claims against subsidiaries of British multinationals to sue the parent company in the UK,” read the statement.

“The 1,826 claimants, represented by UK law firm Leigh Day, are from farming and fishing communities downstream of KCM’s mines and plants. They claim to have suffered continual pollution since UK firm Vedanta Resources bought KCM in 2004, including a major incident in 2006, which turned the River Kafue bright blue with copper sulphate and acid, and poisoned water sources for 40,000 people. 2,001 claimants took KCM to court in Zambia in 2007. The courts found KCM guilty, but denied the communities compensation after a nine-year legal battle. As a result, the victims took their case to UK lawyers.”

And a long-term campaigner in the case, James Nyasulu from Chingola, stated that the judgement would finally enable justice for the thousands of victims of pollution by KCM’s mining activities.

“The Supreme Court judgement will finally enable justice for the thousands of victims of pollution by KCM’s mining activities, who have suffered immensely since 2006 to date, in the Chingola district of Zambia. Their livelihoods, land and health have been irreparably damaged by pollution which has rendered the River Kafue completely polluted and unable to support aquatic life. Some have already died as a result,” stated Nyasulu.

“We are very grateful to the British Supreme Court for allowing the case to be tried in the UK where we trust that justice will finally be done. As our 13 years of legal battles have shown, we have been unable to get justice in Zambia.”

Meanwhile, Samarendra Das from Foil Vedanta said Wednesday’s development was an historic day for victims of British multinational abuses worldwide.

“As the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals recognise, sustainable development and access to justice go hand in hand. The judges’ ruling today (Wednesday) recognises and enforces that principle. Criminal companies like Vedanta can no longer so easily whitewash their reputation and assume a ‘cloak of respectability’ by virtue of a London listing. This is an historic day for victims of British multinational’s abuses worldwide,” said Samarendra.