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of Tuesday's decision not to give clearance to the group's proposed $1.7 billion bauxite mining project in the state when he met him in Delhi on Tuesday. "He (Ramesh) had never mentioned on Monday this (rejection of clearance to Vedanta's mining project)," Patnaik told. Asked whether there was any politics behind the Centre's action, Patnaik said, "I certainly hope there is no politics." Ramesh, on his part, said no politics or prejudice against the Biju Janata Dal-ruled government was involved in his ministry's decision. "There have been no emotions, no politics and no prejudice involved in the Vedanta's case. The decision is purely on the basis of the proper legal approach," which Ramesh said was based on the Saxena panel report, auditor general's report and recommendations of the FAC. Ramesh said he has no prejudices against the Orissa government as his ministry has cleared an important irrigation project in the state for which the in-principle approval was accorded on Monday. "While rejecting this (Vedanta) project, I have also cleared an important irrigation project in the state in which over 1500 hectares of forest land is involved," the minister said. He also denied that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has played a part in his decision. Patnaik said his government would undertake a 'detailed examination' of the Environment and Forest Ministry's refusal to grant environment clearance to the project. "The state government would undertake a detailed examination of the Union Environment and Forest ministry's rejection order and would take correct and appropriate steps on the matter," he said. On the N C Saxena panel finding fault in implementation of forest rights act, forest conservation act and environment protection act, he said the state government worked on the directives of the Supreme Court while making progress on the mining project. "These investments in Orissa were meant to generate jobs for the people and add to the state's revenue. Therefore, they should be given go ahead," he said, adding that tribal dominated backward district like Kalahandi had never received such a huge investment in the past. Ramesh also dismissed reports that rejection was a sort of deal in lieu of clearance to the Korean steel giant Posco's proposed Rs 54,000-crore (Rs 540-billion) project in the state. The two cannot be equated as the violations of forest dwellers by the latter at the site were also being investigated, he said. The government's position is shaped heavily by the report of a committee set up by the Ministry of Environment & Forests to study whether Vedanta had complied with environmental laws and had therefore passed the test that would give it a "Stage 2" or final clearance from the government. Headed by NC Saxena, the committee submitted a damning report last week in which it suggested that the company had broken the law for its mining project as well as its Refinery plant at Lanjigarh. The Committee suggested that the Vedanta operations endanger nearly 750 square km of forest land. The NC Saxena Committee was critical of the Orissa government's decision to clear the project; its report stated that government officials colluded with Vedanta to allow illegal activity including encroaching upon at least 26 hectares of village forest land within its refinery. From its original plans of refining 1 million tons of bauxite, Vedanta has, Ramesh says, illegally expanded its operations to handle 6 million tons. Ramesh has now said the company must explain why its refinery shouldn't be shut down. In 2004, the Orissa government committed to 150 million tonnes of bauxite for Vedanta's alumina refinery; it also stated that the initial supply - upto 78 million tones - would come from the Niyamgiri mine. In the light of Ramesh's emphatic rejection of that, the company claims ,"In view of the ongoing
delay in approval of the Niyamgiri Mining, the Government of Orissa is actively considering allocation of alternate source of bauxite to Vedanta's alumina refinery, from the state of Orissa." The Chief Minister of Orissa, Navin Patnaik, expressed his disappointment with the union government's stand. "I certainly hope this is not politics because this has to do with the development and the progress of the state. After all, when these big investments come, the state's revenue goes up, our young people get many jobs, infrastructure is built in very backward areas. After all, Kalahandi has never received major investment before this alumina plant." In 2007, a Public Interest Litigation challenged Vedanta's mining project in the Supreme Court. A year later, the court cleared the project, but said the government would make the final call "in accordance with law". VEDANTA¶S REPLY: --- Vedanta has offered in its defense the promise that it plans to mine only 3.5 square kmeters of the 250-km Niyamgiri Range. The company also says that there is considerable local support for the project: 5000 locals helped to build its alumina refinery. In Vedanta's estimate, its mine will bring Rs. 1,000 crores to the region every year, and will provide jobs for 600,000 locals. P.R. STRATEGY BY VEDANTA Charges of environmental damage and human rights violations are forcing Vedanta group to change. Founder Anil Agarwal has to ensure the changes are more than cosmetic. Controversy is not new to Agarwal, a 56-year-old businessman from Patna who started his career bringing together a variety of family businesses nearly 35 years ago. In fact, he thrives on them, having become known more for running some of the world¶s lowest cost producers of various metals and minerals than for running eco-friendly plants. But with his increasingly globalizing business now listed on the London Stock Exchange, he is facing more scrutiny outside his homeland where implementation of environmental standards could be lax. At Vedanta¶s head office on 16, Berkeley Street in London, however, the reaction to all the criticism is that it is primarily a ³perception´ problem. As a result, Agarwal and his generals have set out to correct the perception with a counter public relations strategy. The stakes are getting higher every day. Agarwal still needs an approval from the environment ministry without which his bauxite project would be stalled. A multi-billion dollar fund-raising exercise is on the way. Word is out that a few more investors could pull out of Vedanta, though this remains purely speculative as of now. But more importantly, bad reputation could come in the way of Agarwal¶s dream to make Vedanta one of the top five mining companies in the world. But the big question that Agarwal must ask himself is if all this enhanced criticism he is facing is just an image problem or does his group need soul-searching on the price it pays for chasing ever lower costs of production. Just a few weeks after Church of England and three other investors sold their stakes in Vedanta, Agarwal met Niira Radia, the Delhi-based head of Vaishnavi Corporate Communications, a leading public relations firm that has Tata Group companies and Reliance Industries as its clients. Agarwal wanted Radia to handle Vedanta¶s public relations portfolio. ³Vaishnavi had successfully handled Vedanta¶s affairs when the legal case on the mining project was being held in the Supreme Court. Though Agarwal had not felt the need to continue with Vaishnavi after he won the case, now he wants them. Now, Agarwal expects the professional team to take his message across to the outside world.
whether there is any truth in the prattle. It is a similar problem that surrounds Vedanta¶s project in the middle of tribal territory in Orissa to mine for bauxite. Otherwise. We have come out with a standard operating manual and a CSR tool kit. Maharashtra. the CSR activities at high-priority Orissa are still handled by the head of human resources. Some people claim that Sterlite lets out gallons of effluents into the sea. For long. " ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT BY VEDANTA There is a conspiracy theory making rounds in the southern seaside town of Tuticorin. But one wonders if others below him cared equally. It is part of Agarwal¶s most ambitious plan for . A top Orissa bureaucrat says such initiatives will help Vedanta gain credibility and also change the working culture at the group.´ Interestingly. The Tuticorin plant. but got no reply. created a group head post for CSR. He roped in Ruby Thapar from the Aditya Birla group for the post. which is an µinternal Bible¶. For instance. including discussion of the full impact of the project and sharing of assessment studies. where metals company Sterlite Industries set up its copper smelter 13 years ago.´ Faced with community opposition.´ says Julia Nelson of Business for Social Responsibility. For the past two years. we have set up a system that is process-driven and not people-driven. Chhattisgarh. for their smelter at Jharsguda (in Orissa). International NGOs claim lack of transparency has been one of the fundamental drawbacks of Vedanta Resources¶ efforts to find unified local support. on CSR. Sterlite Copper¶s hometown .´ says Thapar. Agarwal started conducting a fortnightly video conference from his London office to check on progress on various CSR initiatives of the Group. on environmental grounds. has never been able to fully erase such doubts. who claims that Vedanta now has ³one of the largest CSR teams in the country with 60 full time professionals. A former senior executive who worked at the group¶s aluminium plant in Korba. ³They are too aggressive and this makes them cut corners and commit mistakes. they expanded the capacity even before getting the necessary approvals from the government. are a few of the basic practices of a business model based on sustainable development. a USbased consultancy firm that advises companies. but not directly. says.Another gap that Vedanta is trying to fill is corporate social responsibility (CSR). ³Dialogue with the community. CSR was largely neglected in the group. the raw material for aluminium. the CEOs are graded for their performance on the CSR front and last year. which began operations against fierce opposition from local environmentalists. the holding company of London-based billionaire Anil Agarwal¶s $6 billion plus group that includes Sterlite. after being driven out of Ratnagiri. Sterlite has set up a foundation to address local needs and sited seven of its 18 centers in Tuticorin. how do you explain that the least performing executives were shunted to CSR positions?´ Agarwal sought to set it right and in 2005. the chairman came across as a person who was interested in corporate social responsibility. ³In the last five years. ³In his talks. which eventually pours the effluents into the sea. They say it has linked up its drainage pipes to those of another well-known company in the area. Forbes India asked Vedanta Resources plc.
when protesters in Ratnagiri in the western state of Maharashtra cited environmental concerns to block Sterlite from building a smelter and to force the state to revoke the company¶s license. That license stipulated that the unit be at least 25 kilometres from the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park in order to protect the region¶s ecology ± its famed coral islands and exotic species such as dugongs. Community activists charge that MALCO is a heavy weight player in the local economy and politics. the projects threaten densely forested areas that are home to tiger. . Nothing is sacred any more. and a significant contributor to environmental degradation. and that the state and central governments are colluding with the company to circumvent environmental protections. 2) Social welfare programs have done little to blunt a long history of opposition to Vedanta or to counter evidence that it has polluted the environment. Less than four months after applying to build the smelter.particularly fisherfolk. and elephant. and the Church of England. sold their shareholding in Vedanta citing environmental concerns and human right violations at the upcoming plant. Shortly after.1)A tribal temple on Shervaroyan Peak in the hills of Yercaud in Southern India recently developed several large cracks. But of late. Built several centuries ago. some of whom charge that Vedanta¶s projects are illegal. a Tamil Nadu government invitation to Sterlite to build a plant in Tuticorin sparked massive protests by residents -. Indian bison. 139 people have been injured and 13 killed by accidents or pollution from the Tuticorin smelter complex. arsenic and lead ABOUT ANIL AGARWAL emissions. The affected human population includes impoverished tribal communities. Groups such as Survival International.´ says the president of the local youth federation. owns a subsidiary ± Madras Aluminium Company Limited (MALCO) ± that has been strip mining this and nearby peaks for bauxite. Complaints about the company began mounting in the mid-1990s. Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) granted conditional licenses to construct a 140. ³Their only botheration is to excavate more and more. But the Tamil Nadu project had the blessing of Chief Minister J. sea turtles. Vedanta. Jayalalithaa Jayaram. and colluded with officials to bypass environmental protections. Maintaining ecology is not at all an issue.from sulphur dioxide. the ore that yields aluminium used in products from throwaway soda cans to aircraft bodies.an integrated aluminium plant. bear.000 ton-a-year copper smelter and associated plants.According to activists. ³There¶s a limit to exploitation. according to documented reports and testimony from workers. have pounded the company with similar allegations. Not everyone is convinced it is a good plan. the temple has withstood colonization and independence.´ On the banks of the huge reservoir. a fast-growing British company. who laid the foundation stone for the complex. a new mine threatens to destroy this historic site. Amnesty and ActionAid. In less than 8 years. Other example of environmental degradation by Vedanta----. MALCO operates a smelter and a refinery complex where locally mined bauxite is converted into aluminium. poisoned locals. High profile investors including the Pension Fund of Norway. and pearl oysters -.
Agarwal¶s business empire has grown from less than half a million dollars to $6. I defy anyone to show that he is not doing a great job developing his group.In January this year though. the Indian environment ministry said blamed Vedanta for ³violating forests laws in Orissa. things worsened suddenly when four investors including Church of England and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust sold their shares in Vedanta. though the mining project is mired in controversies. And its ability to carry out projects without bending the rules is suspect. These successes and controversies have divided Vedanta observers into two different camps. He soon proved his critics wrong achieving the most rapid growth of his career after the shift. Jairam Ramesh. In the dirt and grime of the mining business.´ Woodman says. Group insiders say the perception problem has a lot to do with the stereotyping of Agarwal. This is the location where for 25 years. it is trying to have its way both ways. he fought hard and bought old plants to turn them into profitable units.´ says a senior official. which last month came out with statement terming criticism for Vedanta¶s mining project in Orissa ³unfair. Within two months. the London-based non-governmental organisation that has been in the forefront of protests against the bauxite mining project. before moving to London 30 years ago. was now in place. The most incredible thing about Agarwal is that he prospers in conditions where others wither. Agarwal was assured that the last part of his biggest ever project. Over 35 years. universally declared unviable. ³Vedanta has not shown any intention to abide by rules. But nobody can question the enormity of his success. In 2007. Anil Agarwal has not been able to make an impression. By raising finance in London and operating in India.´ says Michael Rawlinson at the London-based investment bank Liberum Capital. ³Anil Agarwal is a misunderstood person. And months later. protests and controversies. Agarwal would be there to buy. Agarwal¶s fortunes soared as the small Indian company he set up in 1988 rode the telecom boom. Agarwal has been passionate about growth and fast growth.´ It looked like Agarwal had begun to lose his magic touch with government dealings.´ Sometime later. Agarwal doesn¶t come across as a sophisticated conversationalist. India is a difficult place to make money for a mining company. the plant would begin to thrive in his hands leaving industry peers incredulous.´ says Jo Woodman of Survival International. ³I have known him for almost two decades and worked with Vedanta officials.In a country that celebrates its businessmen and politicians that look like film stars. the integrated aluminium plant in Orissa. on the question of clearance for . he started out as a scrap metal merchant in Mumbai. Born in eastern India. But it is also characteristic of him to get sucked into environmental debates. When he shifted base from India to the high-brow circles of London. With his rustic manners that a decade of life in London has not erased. Wherever a plant or a mine. Norway¶s pension fund sold its stake in the company for ³environmental and human rights violations. it will put pressure on the environment minister. He lobbied with ministers and bureaucrats across four continents to turn hostile situations favourable.´ The second camp hates him with equal vigour. ³Vedanta has got notorious« The Orissa project is the most controversial mining project in the world.If more investors pull out of Vedanta. where he has already managed to put up the refinery. Indian and international behemoths have tried to set up metal production operations but failed due to local protests and lack of clearances.5 billion. His only fault is lack of articulation. hardly anyone gave a chance to this Marwari businessman from Bihar speaking halting English. supplying copper cables to telecom companies in India. There is no better example for his tenacity than the Orissa project. came up for a sale at throwaway price. regrettable. One set admires Agarwal for his stupendous success against all odds and for creating wealth for his shareholders. India¶s Supreme Court cleared Vedanta¶s bauxite mining project in Orissa and with supportive administrations at Orissa and central governments.
Despite his high level connections. which remains its production base. Known as ³Big Bull" Mehta was notorious for insider trading and manipulating stock prices. who is heading the Orissa project. MALCO Ltd: Aluminium business.integrated behemoth with an impressive international portfolio comprising copper. Bharat Aluminium Co. it plans to start a massive captive mine in the Niyamagiri hills of Orissa. 41 percent held by SIIL Vedanta is a vertically. This could include ³membership of a respected industry responsibility body such as the International Council on Metals and Mining (ICCM). Initial concerns about the Orissa mine project . It has raised almost $1 billion on the London Stock Exchange and has started to snap up mines in Zambia and Australia. It will be a tough task for Agarwal to convince that the changes he is making are not cosmetic and imply a fundamental change in culture. 80 percent holding 2. and a refinery also in Orissa. 5. a smelter in nearby Lanjigarh. zinc. It is common knowledge that the mining project will make Vedanta one of the lowest cost producers of aluminium and among the top five in the world.´ says Louis Henderson of Church of England. lead and gold. Agarwal will hit a roadblock: His plan to spin off his aluminium business including the Orissa project into a separate listed company will get stalled. Vedanta group¶s Indian subsidiaries include: 1. 94 percent holding between SIIL and Vedanta Resources plc. ABOUT VEDANTA Sterlite Industries India Ltd and Vedanta Alumina Ltd are Vedanta¶s two most significant businesses in India. Agarwal has fallen afoul of the law in both Britain and in India where he was accused of collaborating with the infamous stockmarket scamster Harshad Mehta. the company runs a giant copper smelter in the coastal town of Tuticorin in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Without his clearance. bauxite (aluminium). A subsequent exoneration of Sterlite by the Securities Appellate Tribunal¶s left many questions unanswered. With Vedanta Resources listed on the London Stock Exchange.´ In 1998 while the Bombay Stock Exchange was performing poorly and Mehta was promoting Sterlite stock. Agarwal might also face more calls to take initiatives that would have credence in an international audience. Ramesh is one of the few politicians in India who hasn¶t been charmed by Agarwal. Vedanta Alumina Ltd: Alumina business.´ says Vedanta Aluminium¶s CEO Mukesh Kumar. Neither will the project get the $20 billion valuation that he expects. Sterlite Industries India Ltd: Copper business. and aluminium smelters in the central and east Indian states of Chattisgarh and Orissa. In India. the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) "prohibited [Sterlite] from accessing the capital market for a period of two years.the mining project. The company¶s share price slid by 10% last week ± wiping £300m off its market capitalization ± following an Indian government body ruling against a controversial mining project. That same year." for insider trading and other offenses. 80 percent holding 3. 52 percent held by SIIL. Hindustan Zinc Ltd: Zinc business. the company¶s shares rose by 41 percent. 4. ³This is an international conspiracy to stall Vedanta¶s progress. Ltd: Aluminium business. International NGOs allege that the public hearings for its controversial projects are ³eyewash´. According to the company¶s annual report.
local resistance came to a head when fisherfolk used an armada of small boats to prevent ships carrying Sterlite¶s raw material ± copper concentrate ± from entering the Tuticorin harbour. the pollution board granted the company an operating license to manufacture up to 40.had developed into disquiet about the company¶s corporate governance policies and management of shareholder relations with long-term investors. Within two years a spate of accidents and gas leaks from the factory spurred the Madras High Court to commission a report on pollution by Sterlite. cleared Sterlite. and recommended its reopening. But resistance waned after the government conceded to one of the protesters¶ demands: to prohibit disposing the effluents at sea. Sterlite erected the smelter complex± including a mothballed smelter scavenged from the U. . In 1996. Occupational Injuries and Deaths at Sterlite. Barely three months later. Date± Description of Injury/Fatality .S. the same court reversed itself.000 tons of blister copper.± 16 kilometres from one of the protected islands. Sterlite denies that many of the incidents described below (gathered from community sources) were caused by the company. ignoring the TNPCB¶s instructions. NEERI ± a national environmental engineering laboratory ± faulted the company for discharging dangerous levels of pollution into the environment and recommended the company¶s closure. Rather than act on the violation. In 1995.
2 workers maimed. August 1997± Killed: Two contract workers killed. 45 (42 women and 3 men) hospitalized. (Agarwal told the media: "The incident has nothing do with our factory and there was no leakage of any kind of gas from our plant. August 2003± Killed: Lorry cleaner killed during loading August 2003± Killed: Lorry cleaner killed while loading Rock Phosphate December 2003± Killed: Welder succumbs to a fall . coughing and choking due to smoke emanating from Sterlite.") August 1997± Exposed: Workers at nearby Tamilnadu Electricity Board substation suffer headache.1997± Killed: Explosion at the plant. April 1998± Killed: Two employees killed. one injured. July 2001± Killed: Worker trapped under Gypsum load. four injured. Incident reported by women workers at a neighboring cut-flowers factory. Villagers detain factory employees. March 1999± Injured: Sterlite Gas Leak ± 9 employees of ³All India Radio´ hospitalised September 2000± Injured: Two workers sustain acid burn injuries. November 2000± Sterlite pumps toxic effluents into village pond. 2 persons reduced to charred bone. 120 people exposed. July 1997± Injured: Toxic gas leak from Sterlite.
blamed a gas leak at the factory. a 127. a power plant.000 ton-per-year copper smelter. Other activists remain sceptical. Another worker injured.´ Fatima Babu says. Senior TNPCB officials declined to comment.2003± Killed: Electrician killed. according to the Vedanta¶s Annual Report 2004. weeks after the facility re-opened. The board approval came in April 2005 when the factory was ready for production. Then.S. barely a day after the committee¶s visit. they are going ahead with illegal expansions and business as usual.S. Please don¶t ask me anything. and several other units. A . According to a July 2005 Supreme Court Committee report the TNPCB claimed that it consented afterthe Central Ministry ordering it to do so. some environmental and human rights activists are confident that local resistance will gain strength. ³I¶ll get into trouble if I speak to you. when a Monitoring Committee (SCMC) empowered by the Supreme Court visited Sterlite. the plant was churning out four times the allowed levels of pollutants. Ramachandran. nine employees of a neighbouring radio station who were hospitalized. None had government approval. ³The [anti-Sterlite] campaign is bound to pick up because of [Agarwal¶s] arrogant expansionism.000 ton copper refinery. In the face of this record. Mani of Human Rights Tamilnadu Initiative.´ said R. Nonetheless. member secretary (acting) of the board.´ says T. 2005. By September 2004. the central government gave post-facto clearance to the already constructed plants ± despite the fact that Sterlite had never gotten the pollution board¶s consent to built them.´ That cynicism is fueled by the fact that all the new construction in Tuticorin has occured without the environmental clearances legally required by both the central and state governments. At the time of the Supreme Court monitoring committee¶s 2004 visit to Tuticorin. a Chennai-based voluntary organisation. ³I don¶t know how we are going to succeed given the level of [government] collusion. Sterlite had nearly completed construction of a 300. ³Even now. May 2004± Killed: Worker dies after fall from lorry September 2004± Killed: Contract worker run over by crane Source: Sterlite workers and ex-workers. and that other illegal construction at the Orissa site continues.
and gladly paid the fine of Rs.´ says Dutta. In Orissa. The man behind Vedanta/Sterlite. bring it to light and then get post-facto clearance after payment of an insignificant fine. Chidambaram was on the Vedanta board until his party assumed power in New Delhi last year.´ Many concede that the London-based billionaire¶s understanding of India¶s decision-makers is frighteningly accurate. destroyed 58 hectares of forest land and begun construction without the required clearances. reported that attributable profits for year ending in March 2005 were up 66 percent to $120 million. a Supreme Court lawyer who has brought Vedanta¶s violations in Orissa to court. ³The refinery¶s viability is dependent on mining the nearby Niyamagiri hills which are in a reserve forest. Deforestation and Evictions The controversies have apparently not affected the company¶s bottom line. A cartoon in Business India depicts the Vedanta/Sterlite founder squeezing himself through an hour-glass saying ³In India. elected in May 2004.faxed letter seeking clarification on the reasons for TNPCB¶s failure to force compliance. and Indian ambassador to the US from 1996 to 2001. ³Board is taking necessary action. The CEC found that Vedanta had falsified information. recommended revoking Vedanta Alumina Ltd¶s environmental clearance for a 1 million ton aluminium refinery in Lanjigarh. 30. India¶s commerce minister P. you must have patience. Phone calls and emails to Secretary to the Union Environment Ministry Prodipto Ghosh and to public relations chief Maria Doss went unanswered. this time the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) on Forests. is a former cabinet secretary and senior advisor to the prime minister of India from 1992 to 1995. The Congress Party. Orissa. 70-year old Naresh Chandra. Agarwal acknowledged that the company had benefitted from the political climate. Everything will come through.000 hectares of forests in Chattisgarh." as well as for "increased foreign investment and the potential [for India] to become a major regional manufacturing hub. That growth is in no small part a consequence of Agarwal¶s ability to work the system. "has maintained a policy of growth and liberalization" favorable to his company. they have gone ahead and clear-felled another 1. they chopped down trees on 58 hectares. he reported. ³Their strategy is to quickly invest money and build the refinery and then plead with the authorities that their investment ± nearly Rs. They go in for massive violations. Anil Agarwal. elicited a cryptic response from Surjeet K. says that the company adopts a time-tested strategy: ³They don¶t go for small violations. another Supreme Court monitoring committee. Choudhary." he said in Vedanta¶s annual report. His replacement. secretary to the Tamilnadu government and temporary board chairman. But the company failed to disclose this while seeking permission for the refinery. Ritwick Dutta. Now.´ On September 21.´ he wrote."This has been an exceptional period for metal prices driven by strong demand from China.000 or so ($650). 3500 crores ($780 million) .
"There have been some public interest submissions to a Supreme Court of India sub-committee. According to Dutta and the CEC. Since then. the committee writes: ³The casual approach.. and the residents were forcibly relocated to resettlement camps. two tribal villages were razed. Some activists suspect that the ways the company is addressing the problem is not to ameliorate damage. In 2004. The non-profit People¶s Union of Civil Liberties investigated the human rights violations reported by Lanjigarh residents and concluded: ³It is hard to believe that [the area] is a part of the same India that the elite continuously brags about having catapulted into twenty-first century. . two more villages have been evicted with help from the state police and company-sponsored goons. In its report.. the situation at Orissa throws the integrity of the authorities in question. Company head Agarwal brushed aside these concerns in his annual report.´ says Dutta.would be rendered unviable if the mine is not cleared. said Samantara. according to tribal rights activist Prafulla Samantara. regarding the environmental clearances for the bauxite mining and these are currently being addressed. he said. but to work its special relationship with government officials. while the mining proposal has yet to secure approval. Police have detained several tribal leaders and their supporters.´ Besides the clear cutting. and a cordon around the village was keeping him from protest site. there is the issue of ³demolition of tribal villages on the land that Sterlite wanted to occupy. Indeed. and believe (perhaps rightly) that their attackers enjoy the support of the police.The people are terrorised. armed police stationed around Lanjigarh were preventing tribals and activists from congregating at the plant gate to protest the Vedanta project¶s illegal construction. the CEC hints at complicity between the company. As of November 10. the Union Ministry of Environment and the Orissa government.´ Nityanand Jayaraman is a Chennai-based journalist investigating and reporting on corporations What is the problem? . This apprehension of the people is reinforced by the fact that the attackers admit in public that they have attacked the agitating villages. the lackadaisical manner and the haste with which the entire issue of forests and environmental clearance for the alumina refinery project has been dealt with smacks of undue favour/leniency and does not inspire confidence with regard to the willingness and resolve of both the State Government and the MoEF to deal with such matters keeping in view the ultimate goal of national and public interest.´ The Lanjigarh plant is nearing completion.
Sterlite wants to build an open pit mine to extract bauxite from the top of the mountain. copper. When alumina is refined it becomes aluminium ± a cheap metal that is used the world over to produce everything from saucepans to aeroplanes. There has already been widespread criticism of Vedanta¶s toxic waste management at the refinery. . Vedanta Aluminium Ltd. The refinery is already operational with bauxite being brought in from other mining sites. which the Wildlife Institute of India states has µgreat conservation significance¶. zinc and lead. The perennial springs provide water and the fruit and animals provide their food as well as their medicines and livelihoods. Kutia Kondh and the Jharania Kondh. leopards and elephants What are we calling for? The Indian Government to recognise and protect the constitutional rights of indigenous people to their ancestral lands. A refinery has already been built at the base of the hills by another Vedanta subsidiary. our god. destruction of local ecosystems and threaten water sources. They also worship Niyamgiri Mountain as their living god. It produces aluminium. It is the abode of many endangered species. These tribal groups are supposed to be protected under India¶s Constitution as their distinctive way of life and culture makes them one of India¶s most vulnerable indigenous groups. What is the planned Vedanta project? The Niyamgiri Mountain is rich in a mineral called bauxite which is the raw form of alumina.Sterlite Industries." says 36 year old Mali Majhi from the Kondh tribe. Without our mountain.Official reports suggest that mining Niyamgiri will result in massive deforestation. Who is Vedanta Resources plc? Vedanta Resources Plc is a UK metals and mining company. there is no life for us. a subsidiary of Vedanta. People living nearby have complained that pollution has reduced crop yields and poisoned livestock and caused health problems. "We will not leave Niyamgiri. such as tiger. it will be the end of a way of life that has existed for centuries. It operates throughout the world. If the land that the Kondh tribal people are reliant on for their livelihoods is destroyed. For generations the thousands of people living in small groups across the mountain have depended upon it for their lives. which would then be transported down to the refinery at the base of the mountain. is currently set to start mining for bauxite (a raw form of aluminium) from the Niyamgiri Hills in the State of Orissa. Who is affected? The Niyamgiri hills is the ancestral home of three tribal groups ± the Dongria Kondh. but particularly in India. The Orissa State Pollution Control Board Report in 2008 found that caustic soda seepage from the site was µalarming¶ and that ambient air quality was not conforming to standards. The mountain is also a pristine ecosystem rich in biodiversity.
the destruction of protected local ecosystems rich in biodiversity. Official studies have suggested that this is likely to lead to massive deforestation on the slopes. It also represents an outright assault on the culture and religion of the indigenous people who live there." she adds. Vedanta Resources plc. "For us this is a life and death fight. generations of indigenous people from the Dongria Kondh. She says the cost of mining would be phenomenal: "Niyamgiri bauxite would come at the cost of clean water and pristine forest in an otherwise drought-hit district. If mining is to be permitted. raising chickens and growing vegetables and rice." . Protests about the threat the project poses to the forests local people depend upon for their livelihoods have been repeatedly ignored by officials and the company. India.Tribal communities in Orissa. After a three year case full of legal controversies. History Orissa and Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd. from which they derive many of the religious beliefs and cultural practices that define their tribal identity. Now tribal members say they've been involuntarily displaced from their homes and refused compensation for their lost land. The cost Bratindi Jena of ActionAid is helping build support for the Kondh¶s struggle to save their mountain. a subsidiary of Vedanta Resources plc have signed a 'memorandum of understanding' with the Orissa government for establishing a bauxite mine on the plateau atop Niyamgiri and a refinery at the foot of the mountain. the Supreme Court has given clearance for Vedanta to go ahead. lawyers say two of India strongest Consitutional guarantess will be overturned: the right to life and human dignity (article 21) and the right to religious practises and beliefs (article 25). and the disruption of key water sources that supply springs and streams on the surrounding hillsides and feed two rivers which irrigate large areas of farmland in southeast Orissa. The company plans to mine over one million tonnes of bauxite a year from reserves within Niyamgiri mountain. Until Vedanta came along. Kutia Kondha and Jharania tribes lived in the forests of Niyamgiri mountain. They are also concerned about the impact of mining on Niyamgiri mountain. Orissa. are living in fear for their future due to the development of a combined bauxite mining and alumina refinery project in the heart of their ancestral home by a subsidiary of the UK mining and metals company. In the words of 36 year old Malari. foraging for food." "Permitting mining would pave the way for persecution of a minority community and deny legal protection for their religious beliefs.
Across the globe. which highlighted the plight of indigenous tribes from across the world. Vedanta was trumpeting how they had bagged the prestigious Golden Peacock Environment award that is instituted by the World Environment Foundation (WEF). as they fight to hang on to their land and way of life. We must support the Kondh tribe¶s struggle to stop the mine and send a message that corporations cannot ride roughshod over people¶s lives. Every small win is important and reminds them that this battle is far from over.C. it needs to be pointed out that the illegality of this project was well-established even before this panel submitted its report. y . WEF are now saying that they are rethinking the decision. Various aspects of the it. Since protests from activists about Vedanta¶s environmental record at the Global Convention on Climate Security.the latest landmark decision of the Centre rejecting environmental clearance to the Vedanta group¶s $ 1. corporations like Vedanta are greedy to dig up the wealth of minerals that lie beneath indigenous land.7 billion bauxite mining project in Orissa¶s Niyamgiri hills with Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh citing serious violations of the Environment Protection Act 1966. Saxena should be congratulated for exposing the many illegal and unethical aspects of Vedanta¶s proposed Niyamgiri Mining Project in Orissa. In Niyamgiri there is continuing activism. Vedanta is not invincible. . This is evident from the report the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) (constituted by the Supreme Court) submitted in 2005. But the communities are fighting back. However. Forest Counservation Act 1980 and Forest Rights Act 2006 by both the Orissa Government and Vedanta in this regard. Only this morning there was another piece of excellent news: Last week. The four-member committee headed by N. as tribal members continue to peacefully protest against Vedanta construction workers. This is µa human rights emergency¶ from South America to South India.A huge thank you to everyone who has supported the Vedanta campaign to stop a mine being built on the Kondh tribal people¶s home. Your Read a very interesting article in the Guardian on Saturday (26 June).
Criticising this decision the CEC said: Such delinking is objectionable because the alumina refinery project has been located in Lanjigarh because of its proximity to the proposed mining site at Niyamgiri Hills. 2002. but later. Pointing out another serious distortion in the environmental clearance of this project by the MoEF. Had the guidelines issued by the MoEF been followed.4 of the guidelines laid down by the MoEF: Some projects involve use of forest land as well as non-forest land. Lanjigarh. for the mining component the environmental clearance and/or the forest clearance is rejected. issued for the land acquisition for the alumina refinery project by the Collector. following a request by Messers Sterlite. 2003 filed by Messers Sterlite (parent company of Messers Vedanta) for seeking environmental clearance for the project it was stated that nil forest land is required for the alumina factory and that within a radius of 10 km of the project site there is no forest. the CEC had stated that normally this is accorded after assessing the environmental issues associated with the linked mining project. In the notice dated June 6. State Governments/Project Authorities sometimes start work on nonforest land in anticipation of the approval of the Central Government for release of the forest lands required for the projects. which is not correct. 2004 stating that ³the project does not involve diversion of forest land´. the environmental clearance for the alumina refinery was accorded by it on September 22. In the event. The illegality of the way the work on this project has proceeded will be evident from a reading of para 4. Initially the MoEF had stated explicitly that it¶ll follow this normal procedure. Kalahandi. expenditure incurred on works on non-forest . Though the provisions of the Act may not have technically been violated by starting of work on non-forest lands. the construction work on the alumina refinery would not have been started at all. the MoEF went out of its way to in effect delink the alumina refinery project and the mining project by granting the in-principle environmental clearance for the refinery project. the expenditure of about Rs 4000 crores being incurred on the protect will become infructuous. Yet in the application dated March 19. On this basis the CEC had drawn attention to the fact that the State Government even at that early date was aware about the involvement of forest land in the project. Later though a proposal for the use of 59 hectares forest land for this project was pending before the MoEF.In its µobservations and conclusions¶ the CEC drew attention to several important aspects of this project and its execution. it was mentioned that lands for compensatory afforestation shall be provided at other places in lieu of 118 acres of existing village forest coming inside of project area. In the words of the CEC. or the environmental wing of the MoEF had taken cognisance about the involvement of the forest land in the Project or if Messers Vedanta had furnished the correct information in its application for the environmental clearance.
Examining the execution of this project in the light of these guidelines. work should not be started on non-forest land till approval of the Central Government for release of forest land under the Act has been given. Finally. The CEC also summarised various objections filed by the applicants: As per the applicants Niyamgiri Hills forms the source of the Vamsdhara river and a major tributary of the Nagvalli. quick-fix actions were initiated by Messers Vedanta (who said they don¶t need 59 hectares of forest anyway for the refinery).lands may prove to be infructuous if diversion of forest land involved is not approved. The mining will lead to the flow of mineral overburden into the streams. The breach of the red mud and the ash pond may cause severe damages downstream. and the Ash Pond on the Vamsdhara river may cause serious water pollution. the lackadaisical manner and the haste with which the entire issue of forests and environmental clearance for the alumina refinery project has been dealt with smacks of undue favour/leniency and does not inspire confidence with regard to the willingness and resolve of both the State Government and the MoEF to deal with such matters keeping in view the ultimate goal of national and public interest.41 acres of the said land was found to have been encroached by Messers Vedanta by way of land breaking and levelling activities for which forest offence cases have been registered and show-cause notices have been issued by the Orissa Forest Department. In the instant case had a proper study been conducted before embarking on a project of this nature and magnitude involving massive investment. which is a mix of highly toxic alkaline chemicals and contains a cocktail of heavy metals including radio-active elements. the objections to the project from . Later when this was exposed. Most of these streams are perennial²due to springs originating just below the bauxite escarpment. It has therefore been decided that if a project involves forest as well as non-forest land. The potential for such an occurrence has not been properly assessed. It is another matter that all these desperate actions still left behind a trail of illegal acts.. Thirtysix streams originate from within the mining lease area.As per the applicants the location of the pond for the red mud. These are used for irrigation as well as a source of drinking water by the people living in the adjoining villages. . it was pointed out by the CEC that 10.. All this was accomplished within five days. Among other things. the Orissa Government and the MoEF (who then gave the go-ahead to Messers Vedanta). By mining of bauxite deposits at the top of Niyamgiri the water retention capacity of the bauxite deposit will be destroyed. the CEC recommended: The CEC is of the considered view that the use of the forest land in an ecologically sensitive area like the Niyamgiri Hills should not be permitted. the CEC concluded: The Alumina Refinery construction work has started and continued in blatant violation of the above stated guidelines. In the process it will destroy the micro-niches along the streams. The casual approach. showing that vested interests work most efficiently when they have to cover-up their illegalities.
150 kms. This project may only be reconsidered after an alternative bauxite mine site is identified. next to its 20 km. long bauxite mine on the mountain of Panchpat Mali. the special cultural niche of the area and its very close integration with the life of the tribals and also because of the large-scale. mechanised open-cast mining involved in the project. increasing sodium concentration in the water of wells. and the tribal villages have faced cultural genocide. The very identity of being a Dongria Kondha is linked up with residing and possessing land here and passing it on to posterity. regard the Niyamgiri as sacred home. In the case of the present project the possibilities of ecological and cultural disruption as well as adverse impacts on livelihood are all the more accentuated because of the sensitive ecology of the Niyamgiri region. the Niyamgiri hills are homes of Kutia Kondhas and Jharania Kondhas. Keeping in view all the facts and circumstances brought out in the preceding paragraphs it is recommended that this Hon¶ble Court may consider revoking the environmental clearance dated September 22.environmental/ecological/forest angle would have become known in the beginning itself and in all probability the project would have been abandoned at this site. practised and nurtured their life and livelihood patterns with forest and wildlife forming a formidable system of mutual dependence. A report prepared by Environmental Protection Group on the ecological importance of this region says: The rare indigenous tribes in Niyamgiri have developed. . which invariably has a highly damaging effect on water sources. away in Koraput district. as well as the Majhi Kondhs who live in the plains below. Learning from the experience of a previous project. 2004 granted by MoEF for setting up of the Alumina Refinery Plant by Messers Vedanta and directing them to stop further work on the project. The area for miles around already resembles a desert. BAUXITE mining and aluminium extraction is generally known for its numerous adverse environmental impacts. All of them. This is Nalco¶s refinery. Particularly troublesome is the disposal of alkaline mud (or µred mud¶). Felix Patel (an authropologist) and Sumarendra Das (a senior journalist) wrote recently: This type of refinery is highly polluting. Other problems are related to the release of caustic soda (used to extract alumina from raw bauxite) into the ground water. Along with Dongria Kondhas. The Niyamgiri hills in the Eastern Ghats region have a very special place in the life and legends of Dongria Kondhas (a primitive tribe) who live here. Among the worst pollutants of such factories are the fumes and the highly toxic waste product known as Red Mud. full of heavy metals. To comprehend the impact it would have on the local environment one has only to visit Damanjodi. as their place of origin. They live in about 200 villages scattered throughout the hill range. all primitive tribal groups famed for their horticulture.
Hence hunting or cutting trees on Niyamraja range is taboo for them. Consultation was conducted with the local inhabitants in line with the rules and regulations of the country. Safety.e. The plant employs state-of-the-art technology and environmental practices. so no families will be displaced from the mining area. thus minimizing the carbon footprint that comes from transporting raw materials over large distances. Sterlite Industries India Limited (SIIL). the plant symbolizes industrial progress and development in the region. Zero Effluent Discharge Technology ± no water or effluent discharged externally from the refinery. Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) has been conferred with a number of awards such as the British Safety Council Award 2009. was awarded the Global Ethical Practices award in January 2010. In the case of the Lanjigarh project. a Vedanta subsidiary. Large industrial projects require land leading to some amount of displacement. and well connected rail and road network in addition to easy access to ports. y y y y . There are stringent rules and regulations in India around displacing people. These families have been successfully resettled in a modern housing colony that was built by Vedanta. Around 40 to 50 per cent of their annual income is obtained from the selling of forest products like siali leaves. the bauxite will be transported to the refinery by an environment-friendly. no water or effluent is discharged externally from the refinery. did Vedanta move ahead with actual construction of the refinery in 2004. They collect various types of forest products and sell these at nearby weekly haats. movement of materials by truck can cause disturbance to local communities. pumping at high solid concentration ranging which requires low water usage. The Lanjigarh Alumina Refinery ± Operational Since 2007 The Vedanta Alumina Refinery at Lanjigarh currently has a refining capacity of 1 mtpa and plans to expand its capacity upto 5mtpa. the proposed bauxite mines are located in an uninhabited area. amla etc. But if this area is blasted for mining then this will be a great cultural shock for these simple people. ecological and cultural importance of the Niyamgiri hills iLanjigarh is a village situated in the hilly landscape of Kalahandi District in Orissa.ISO 14001-2004 and Occupational Health and Safety Management System-OHSAS-18001-2007. They aren¶t at all known for hunting. which will be expanded to 5mtpa. dust and vehicle exhaust. just 1-2 km from their original homes. Further. Spread across an area of 2060 acres. The proposed bauxite mine is located just 5 km from the refinery. i. and only after they gave consent to be displaced and rehabilitated. Today Lanjigarh is synonymous with Vedanta Aluminium Ltd¶s project that consists of a state-of-the-art Alumina Refinery and proposed Niyamgiri bauxite mine that was identified for mining by the Government of Orissa all the way back in the late 1970¶s. The proposed mining area at the top of the Niyamgiri hills is an extremely sacred place for Dongria Kondhas. so that they would still continue to live in the same area that they have been living for generations. Vedanta has projects in various states of India and is committed to the highest standards of Health. The census for 2001 revealed that the total population of this tribe is 7952. It is the first Alumina Refinery in India to adopt the Zero Discharge System. Salient Features: Close proximity to the raw material (5 km from the Bauxite Mine). Vedanta designed this project to minimize displacement of the people who lived in the area. and Vedanta followed these regulations. signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) for development of Bauxite Mines and setting up of an Alumina Refinery at Lanjigarh. covered pipe conveyor system. In the late 1990¶s. Environmental Management System. The Vedanta Alumina Refinery is a greenfield refinery with an existing capacity of 1 mtpa. Environment and Community Engagement. Use of environment-friendly pipe conveyor system to transport bauxite from the Mine to the Refinery. Only after extensive studies of the impact the project would have on the environment. and most importantly the people living in the area. It is very important to keep in mind this economic. the mining has not yet begun. The cultural aspects are no less important. wildlife. Green Business Leadership Award 2009 and the St. In mining operations. thus minimizing noise. The Niyamgiri hills are highly valued for the religious lore associated with these. High Concentration Slurry Disposal technology for Red Mud and Ash i. While the refinery has commenced operations.The livelihood of Dongria Kondhas is closely related to the Niyamgiri forests. Vedanta¶s Alumina Refinery at Lanjigarh also holds certifications of Quality management system-ISO 9001-2008. The plant is located at a distance of approximately 3 km from the main streets of the Lanjigarh village. John Ambulance Annual Award 2008.e. about 121 families were displaced after extensive consultation with them. The CEO of Vedanta Aluminium Ltd. well before the formation of Vedanta Resources. They grow fruits like pineapples under the thick forests. myrobalans. In the alumina refinery project.
USD 2.at an altitude of 1. 2. under a joint venture with Sterlite Industries.0 mtpa Bauxite 721.Development Projects worth Rs.7 mt 77. The deposit lies between latitude levels of 19-38¶ to 19-41¶N and longitude levels of 83-22¶ to 83-24¶E . 4. The proposed mining area is uninhabited and no families will be displaced. Rs.5 million) have already been submitted for tribal development with CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority). which SIIL will fully comply with. Publication of the notice of public consultation in two newspapers.The Proposed Niyamgiri Mine ± Mining not yet commenced The bauxite deposit that is identified to supply bauxite to the Vedanta Refinery is located on one hill in the Niyamgiri Hill Range. Submission of the EIA report to the State Pollution Control Board with a request to conduct the Public Consultation process. All compliances required for mining as per Government rules and requirements have been complied with.306 meters above mean sea level.USD 3. if any in the English and local language and also inform people through word of mouth and through local community leaders.6 million) have been identified and approved by the SPV in the first Board meeting held in October 2009. Out of the approximately 250 sq km Niyamgiri Hill range.050 meters to 1.170 million (c. The bauxite is located in localized pockets up to a maximum depth of 30-35 meters. Obtaining permission from the District Collector regarding the place. Multiple processes and procedures are in place to assess the merit of every project. The Supreme Court examined all aspects of the project in detail and cleared the project in 2008. 100 million (c. a sustainable back-fill and reclamation sequence will be implemented that facilitate the green belt development. Preparation of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report taking into account data for the following: (i) Resettlement and rehabilitation study. The Supreme Court directed SIIL to plough back the higher of 5% of the profit earned from the project. including the Honorable Supreme Court of India have given the µgo ahead¶ to the project in principle.122 million (c. and the final clearance is awaited.USD 4 million) for 2007-08 and 2008-09 has already been deposited with the SPV. . The distance between the mining area and the Refinery is approximately 5 km. date and nomination of their representative to attend the Public Consultation. The mined bauxite will be transferred to the Refinery through a quiet and efficient pipe conveyor. 5. Vedanta¶s Lanjigarh project has been put through exhaustive scrutiny and after satisfying outcomes. or Rs. Application is submitted to the MoEF for grant of site clearance. the authorities. The mining of bauxite will be carried out by the state-owned Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC). This is being implemented through the Lanjigarh Project Area Development Foundation (LPADF) ± a special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed by the Government of Orissa. Rs. water and ground topography 3. Salient Features Mine Lease Owner Capacity of Mine Mining Lease Area Geological Reserves Mineable Reserves Method of Mining Orissa Mining Corporation 3. Concurrently. if applicable (ii) Hydrology and hydrogeology study (iii) Ground water/surface water withdrawal permission (iv) Details of flora and fauna in the area (v) Details of the impact of project on air.USD 2 million) on the development of the area. Besides. while the mining has not yet commenced as it awaits final forest diversion clearance. only a 4-5 sq km area of one hill will be mined.200 million (c.7 mt Opencast Project Approval Procedure India has stringent rules and regulations with regards to Mining. There was a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in 2004 in the Supreme Court of India against the mining project. one national and another at the local level with a 30 day holdover period for comments. Orissa Mining Corporation and Sterlite Industries.323 ha 88. along with mandatory guidelines. The refinery has commenced operations after receiving all approvals. New projects are granted approval by India¶s Central Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) as per prevailing guidelines of the Government of India which involves the following steps: 1.
August 2008: The Supreme Court passed a Final order. September 2004: The Mining Lease of Lanjigarh was granted in favour of OMC and Environmental Clearance for the 1 mtpa refinery.73 Ha of forest land for construction of conveyor and Mine Access Road for the mining project.749 Ha of land required for the Mining Project. 8. Issue of µNo Objection Certificate¶ (Consent to Establish) by the State Pollution Control Board. The CEC submitted its report to the Supreme Court of India in September 2005. March 2006: Based on CEC observations. Conducting the Public Consultation with a presentation to the attendees and recording of the minutes of the meeting by a State Pollution Control Board Official. fauna and tribal habitation in Kalahandi and Koraput Districts of Orissa. . Dehradun and CMPDI (Central Mine Planning and Design Institute Limited). The MoEF appointed WII (Wildlife Institute of India). A joint venture was formed between OMC and VAL. It also involves consulting the ³Gram Sabha´ or the council of local villagers where the project is situated. Incorporation of the issues raised in the Public Consultation process along with replies to each such issue in the EIA report and submission to MoEF with all the study reports. Stage-II Forest diversion clearance is awaited for the mining project in order to commence operations. Subsequently. to MoEF for environmental clearance May 2003: The NOC was granted for the Project by the State Pollution Control Board June 2003: An MOU was signed between SIIL and the Government of Orissa for setting up the Alumina Refinery. OMC and the Government of Orissa were agreeable to the Rehabilitation Programme suggested in the order. for grant of environmental clearance for the project. directing the Orissa Government to submit a detailed report on the same. Court ordered SIIL (an Indian subsidiary of Vedanta Resources plc) to file an application for grant of mining clearance if SIIL. June 2005: An Application was filed by OMC for the grant of Environmental clearance for the project along with EIA. followed by OMC submitting the final Mining Plan to IBM (Indian Bureau of Mines) for approval which got approved in January 2009. October 2007: MoEF submitted the report on the impact of bauxite mining on flora. hydrogeological characteristics and flow of natural water sources. the Supreme Court directed MoEF to appoint subject matter experts. April 2009 : Environmental Clearance granted for Mining Project by MoEF. and approving the forest diversion proposal for 660. December 2008: Receipt of Stage-I approval by Government of India for diversion of 660. February and March 2003: A Public Hearing was conducted at Lanjigarh and Muniguda for grant of No Objection Certificate (NOC).6. Filing application to the MoEF along with the No Objection Certificate. February 2009: SPV Agreement was executed between OMC. 9. December 2004: Site inspection was carried out by the fact finding team of CEC (Central Empowered Committee) that was appointed by the Supreme Court of India to look into the petitions filed in relation to the Project. 7. whereby the joint venture company would mine the bauxite on behalf of OMC and OMC to continue to remain as the Lessee. December 2007: An Application was filed by SIIL to the Supreme Court complying with the directions of the court. apparently to drive its researchers out of an area where the company is planning to mine. before it was granted permission to proceed. Chronology of Events for the Lanjigarh Project April 1997: An MOU was signed between SIIL and OMC for development of Bauxite Mines and setting up of Alumina Refinery at Lanjigarh. November 2007: Disposal of applications filed by Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL). fauna and tribal habitation in Kalahandi and Koraput Districts and an order was passed by the Supreme Court. Ranchi to conduct studies relating to biodiversity including wildlife and their habitat. y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y n order to understand the disruptiMetals giant Vedanta Resources¶ Indian subsidiary has launched an unprecedented attack on Survival International. April 2009: Receipt of Stage-I approval for diversion of 33. soil erosion. SIIL and Government of Orissa as per the Supreme Court Order. Followed by the grant of environmental clearance for the Mining project by MoEF. Vedanta¶s Lanjigarh Project has passed through all these stages of Project Approval. clearing the project. This was followed by filing of application along with the EIA.749 ha of forest land to undertake bauxite mining on the Niyamgiri Hills in Lanjigarh. September 2007: MoEF was directed by the Supreme Court to present a report on impact of bauxite mining on flora.
a London barrister who represented the Kalahari Bushmen in their historic win over the Botswana government. µWe have done nothing to create µmisunderstanding¶. which it has never troubled to discuss with the Dongria itself. It is Vedanta which has done this. In September the British government ruled that Vedanta had repeatedly failed to respect the human rights of the Dongria Kondh. . with officers making a late night visit to a hotel where they believed Survival researchers were staying. In the letter. east India. wrote to journalists alleging that µforeign NGOs including Survival International« are provoking innocent tribal¶s to defame the government and the company¶. Gordon Bennett.¶ Vedanta has prompted a police investigation into Survival.¶ ve impact of this projectMetals giant Vedanta Resources¶ Indian subsidiary has launched an unprecedented attack on Survival International. apparently to drive its researchers out of an area where the company is planning to mine. Pavan Kaushik. We have not µforcedly interacted¶ with the Dongrias: on the contrary we have been warmly welcomed by all those we have been able to meet.¶ He added. Their press release is entirely without foundation. has been acting on behalf of the Dongria Kondh in their complaint over Vedanta¶s behaviour. µIf Vedanta has nothing to hide. and accompanied the Survival researchers.The mining company has falsely accused Survival of µforcedly interacting¶ with the Dongria Kondh tribe who live around the area earmarked for mining. demanding a change in the company¶s behaviour. The government asked Survival to report back on what steps Vedanta had taken to implement these µessential¶ changes before the end of the year. He said today. All the information we have given the Dongria has been culled from Vedanta¶s own mining plan. it is difficult to understand why it has gone out of its way to obstruct our inquiries. It is true to say however that feelings run high in Niyamgiri and that many Dongria regard Vedanta with suspicion and distrust. µWe have not circulated any false information about Vedanta¶s mining activities. and of causing µunrest. to talk with members of the Dongria Kondh community whose future is threatened by a proposed Vedanta mine on their sacred mountain. both by its refusal to meet with us. and more importantly by its repeated failure either to consult the Dongria about its plans for their sacred hills. The letter also invites journalists to contact the regional Superintendent of Police. They believe that their way of life is under serious threat. who is named as available for interview. he attacked µforeigners¶ for µfreely moving in the region¶ and alleged that they were circulating µfalse information¶. or to pay any regard to their views. µWe have not provoked µinnocent tribals¶ to defame either the government or Vedanta. Vedanta Group¶s head of corporate communications. Survival researchers were in the Niyamgiri area of Orissa.
In a landmark decision on Tuesday. demanding a change in the company¶s behaviour. wrote to journalists alleging that µforeign NGOs including Survival International« are provoking innocent tribal¶s to defame the government and the company¶.¶ Vedanta has prompted a police investigation into Survival. We have not µforcedly interacted¶ with the Dongrias: on the contrary we have been warmly welcomed by all those we have been able to meet. and accompanied the Survival researchers. who is named as available for interview. and of causing µunrest. They believe that their way of life is under serious threat. which it has never troubled to discuss with the Dongria itself. All the information we have given the Dongria has been culled from Vedanta¶s own mining plan. In the letter. Gordon Bennett. Survival researchers were in the Niyamgiri area of Orissa. . µWe have not circulated any false information about Vedanta¶s mining activities. He said today. The letter also invites journalists to contact the regional Superintendent of Police. to talk with members of the Dongria Kondh community whose future is threatened by a proposed Vedanta mine on their sacred mountain. Vedanta Group¶s head of corporate communications. east India. has been acting on behalf of the Dongria Kondh in their complaint over Vedanta¶s behaviour. In September the British government ruled that Vedanta had repeatedly failed to respect the human rights of the Dongria Kondh. µWe have not provoked µinnocent tribals¶ to defame either the government or Vedanta. a London barrister who represented the Kalahari Bushmen in their historic win over the Botswana government. he attacked µforeigners¶ for µfreely moving in the region¶ and alleged that they were circulating µfalse information¶.The mining company has falsely accused Survival of µforcedly interacting¶ with the Dongria Kondh tribe who live around the area earmarked for mining. a commitment to playing by the rules rather than a political campaign against mega-corporations. The government asked Survival to report back on what steps Vedanta had taken to implement these µessential¶ changes before the end of the year. the environment ministry blocked Vedanta's mining project in Orissa because the forest-hills it would have destroyed are intertwined with the lives and livelihoods of local primitive tribes. It is true to say however that feelings run high in Niyamgiri and that many Dongria regard Vedanta with suspicion and distrust. Pavan Kaushik. µWe ENVIRONMENT BECAME THE KEY FOCUS-India's decision to reject UK-based Vedanta's plans to mine bauxite points to tighter enforcement of environment laws. with officers making a late night visit to a hotel where they believed Survival researchers were staying.
K. the environmental ministry was seen as rubber-stamping projects. which is a good thing. _PAEGBREAK_ Political dividend Mining lobbies have accused Ramesh of witch-hunting multinational corporations. Australia faced this." Commentators point out that thousands of factories get built in India every year and the government has clearly encouraged industrial projects . can boost the idea of a rule of law and make government policies transparent. an independent political economist. Brazil has realised. A second airport in Mumbai is caught in the environment debate as are dozens of road and dam projects. saying he is going after projects in states not controlled by the Congress ruling party. This is course correction." said Paranjoy Guha Thakurta. Things will not be done as they used to be in the past. no backdoor. Government sources say POSCO could be given permission for its USD 12 billion steel mill in Orissa in 2 months because its problems were not quite the same as Vedanta's. no sidetracking environment. It also infused life into the environment ministry with its maverick minister. Jairam Ramesh. But Ramesh has scrapped or delayed clearance for some 100 mining projects.It was a stunning victory for a four-year-long global campaign for the Dongria Kondh tribe against a giant mining firm that has been pitchforked into India's debate over environmental laws." said R. "The clear signal to overseas investors is that you can not take environmental clearance for granted. Hero or villian? Ramesh's stand in a country focused on development and raring to take the global high table has meant he is also scoffed at by some as an inflexible "green fundamentalist". it is a developing country phenomenon. Naveen Patnaik reacted to the scrapping of the Vedanta project by saying: "I hope there was no politics (involved). and brought more accountability in a sector that had minimal environmental regulations. often done with help from local politicians. For years. including those backed by South Korea's POSCO. "This not a problem typical to India." . "What Jairam Ramesh is doing is saying if you have to do business here play it by the rule. Underlying all this is a realisation in India that enforcing environmental rules does not have to hurt growth. Gupta. whose tussle with his cabinet colleagues on clearing forests for mining and roads underlines India's struggle for sustainable growth.evidence analysts say that the ruling Congress party is not antidevelopment. managing director of Taurus Mutual Fund. Orissa is one of these non-Congress states and its chief minister. drawing protests that he is hurting development in a nation short of power and raw materials. Ramesh has also cracked down on illegal mining.
Ramesh created a flutter by suggesting that India could be more flexible in its negotiating stance at the Copenhagen summit. In India. He was close to her husband Rajiv. which will make it one of the largest refinery in the world. So. Narasimha Rao announced the famous KBK project (Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput) in 1994. said after the controversy. That article led the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to pay a visit to the district and brought the district to the attention of the national stage for its acute poverty and famine. The Indravati Water Project. a former prime minister. As the basic infrastructure is dismal state. He soon backed down. a sprightly new kid on the block by the standards of India's grandfatherly politicians. no politics. "In our country. largely because of lacuna at implementation stage. a former U. The 56 year-old minister." Ramesh.And as if anticipating such charges. while rejecting the proposal on Tuesday." But in India. leading to two-three crops in a year.. That these laws are being violated. and even seemed contrite. you are not accepted if you start thinking out of the box. Because of this. The compnay has also proposed for Expansion of the Refinery to 6 MTPA. Years of uncontrolled mining has pushed tribal people off their forest land. Prime Minister P. who was instrumental in bringing Ramesh into politics. But some development in the recent past has shown some sign of progress.educated civil servant. And in pursuing his environment policies. Nonetheless. Ramesh's hand is probably strengthened by support from his Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi. Ramesh. blocks like Bhawanipatna. I have taken the decision in a purely legal approach. a major aluminium processor has made major investments in the Kalahandi-Koraput range by establishing an 1 MTPA Alumina Refinery and 75 MW Captive Power Plant at Lanjigarh. Vedanta Alumina Limited (VAL). Though this project has received criticism from . no prejudice . alienating them and fuelling insurgencies that feed off a perceived neglect of the poor. Kalahandi has not been able to take off despite of hosts of programmes. second biggest in the state has changed the landscape of southern Kalahandi. Dharamgarh are witnessing rapid agriculural growth. saving the environment is a political issue. Subsequently similar reported cases of starvation deaths and sale of children have led to the announcement of a host of relief efforts and development projects. a subsidiary of Sterlite Industries. Jayapatna.. V.S. two-thirds of the population makes a living from farming and a growing Maoist rebellion has capitalised on a wider resentment over the government's seizure of land for industry. is pushing a reformist agenda against more traditional figures within the government who have often focused more on political expediency. said: "There is no emotion. months ahead of the Copenhagen climate conference. Ramesh's tough stand on environment could also help his ruling Congress party reap political dividends by restoring the lost support of millions of tribespeople. When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appointed him environment minister last year. Kalahandi has been in the news since middle of 1980s when India Today reported sale of a child by its parents due to financial crisis. the development progress is very slow.
Recently Orissa state Government has announced to establish a Government Engineering College and an Agriculture College at Bhawanipatna but local demand for a Central University in Kalahandi has not been accomplished.Balgopal Mishra. On the one side. As many rice mills are competing for paddy. the price paid the farmers has increased in the recent past. this district is famous for famine and starvation deaths: this is the same district that boasts of among the Highest Number of Rice Mills in Orissa.People are joining the Separate State Movement for the creation of 'Koshal' state.7 M. Most of the rice mills purchase paddy from the government allotted villages through panchayat and sell the rice to Food Corporation of India.  Recent Developments Kalahandi also is an example of disparity /contrasts that exist in many part of developing/underdeveloped world. supporters of VAL claims it has brought significant changes in Socio-Economic scenario of Lanjigarh and Kalahandi.a former M.P. The number of rice mills in the district was around 150 in the year 2004-05. No remarkable Farmers' Movement is seen in the areas so far.L. More than 70% have been built in the five years after commissioning of the Indravati project. To articulate the voice & rights of the Kalahandia.The 'Koshal Mukti Rath'of Mr. Orissa government has also set up a private medical college with a tie up with one South India based organisation in Junagarh block of Kalahandi.environmentalists. This has the potential of changing the health infrastructure of the adjoining blocks in the locality. has been widely wel comed by the people of Kalahandi. people have waited for a 'mahatma'to descend amidst them. .A. especially from outside groups. The rice mill business is so lucrative that businessman from adjoining districts and states have invested directly or indirectly. But much needs to be done as the Rice mill Owners are primarily profit-oriented.
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