MAC: Mines and Communities

London Calling invites us all to "watch the birdie"

Published by MAC on 2010-07-24
Source: Nostromo Research (2010-07-20)

Another load of unsustainable poppycock is in the offing

It's that time of the year again: when a magnificent bird is traduced by a sordid scruff of a ceremony passing itself off as the "Valedictory Session of the Global Summit on Sustainability".

This time around the event is nested at the National Liberal Club in London, scheduled to take flight on July 30th, and its highlight will be the "Golden Peacock Awards".

The club itself is neither particularly liberal nor national.

It might appeal to those who enjoy chomping on chicken sloshed down with gollops of wine, trying their hand at a round of billiards, then loosening post-prandial belts on "the most splendid terrace in London".

But it doesn't seem appropriate for a "global summit", purporting to make the world a leaner, greener, more egalitarian and less consuming place.

That is - not until you learn that the body behind this event is an outfit called the World Council for Corporate Governance which, nominally supported by the likes of Ethical Corporation, the UK government and the International Chamber of Commerce, is actually dominated and funded by Indian business interests, including those in oil, gas and mining. See: http://www.wcfcg.net/

For this year's event Tata Motors has been enlisted as a sponsor. One wonders if guests will arrive in the company's newly-released Nano car that threatens to clog up the overloaded streets of Indian cities while emitting even more noxious fumes than at present. See: http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=8395

In 2009 a plan to award the "Golden Peacock" to Vedanta Resources for a supposedly "zero discharge" of wastes from its Lanjigarh alumina refinery in Orissa, was thwarted by demonstrators. See: http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=9319

This year the distinctly shaky, if not shady, "World Council" awards' committee intends giving a "Special Commendation" to Jindal - a company standing second only to Vedanta in terms of its bad impacts on Indian people and skirting of the country's laws.

The emblem of poppycock will be bestowed on Jindal Steel & Power, specifically for its "environmental management of its Nalwa steel plant in Raigarh." See:

http://www.jindalsteelpower.com/media/press-releases.aspx)

Yet, just a week ago, Jindal had a case filed against it by the state government of Chhattisgarh, for building a 2400 megawatt power plant without any clearance or permits. A sham public hearing on the project was declared null and void by the central Ministry of Environment and Forest, thus forcing the state government's hand. See: http://swara.no-ip.org/index.php?id=1220

According to a comment posted on Chattisgarh.net:

"Jindal has made Raigarh hell by destroying the forest, land, water, air and livelihood of thousands of people... Sadly, the award jury will be chaired by Justice P N Bhagwati...[but] there is still time to beware the jury about misdeed of Jindal's in Raigarh and elsewhere. ..."

Not much time, it's true.

But, if London campaigners have enough energy left after confronting Vedanta itself at its July 28 AGM, they could do worse than mosey along to that "most splendid terrace" on the Thames - and set the cat among the pigeons once again.

For a blow-by-blow account of Jindal's appalling record, see: http://www.crocodyl.org/wiki/jspl_jindal_steel_amp_power_ltd

[London Calling is published by Nostromo Research. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily shared by anyone else, including the editors' of this website. Permission to reprint is welcomed, provided full acknowledgment is given to Nostromo Research and to sources used.]


Reject the Golden Peacock Award to M/s Jindal Steel and Power Ltd on grounds of gross violations recorded by Government of India

[Editorial note - reproduced without annexes mentioned in letter]

26th July 2010

To:-

1. Mr. Justice P.N. Bhagwati (retd.) ,

2. Arvind Jadhav

3. Mr. T Ramachandru ,President (CMA) &
Joint Secretary, Ministry of Defence

4. D V Rao

5.Ulric Fayl Hentaller

6. Jeremy Pearce

7. Dilip Biswas
Ex-Chairman, Central Pollution Control Board

8. Dr. S.Z.Qasim,
Chairman, World Environment Foundation

9. William J. Halal
George Washington University

Dear Jurors of the Golden Peacock Award,

Subject: Reject the Golden Peacock Award to M/s Jindal Steel and Power Ltd on grounds of gross violations recorded by Government of India

We, the representatives of people's movements, environmental groups, human rights organisations, NGOs, researchers and activists are once again writing to you with utmost regret and dismay with the choice of company for the Golden Peacock Award, 2010. According to a Press Release on the Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL's) website, the company's Nalwa Steel and Power Limited, has been selected for a Special Commendation for the International Golden Peacock Environment Management Award for the year 2010 by the Golden Peacock Awards Jury, under the Chairmanship of Justice P. N. Bhagwati, former Chief Justice of India and Member, UN Human Rights Commission (see: http://www.jindalsteelpower.com/media/press-releases.aspx).

What is deeply shocking is that the award comes just over a month after the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has withdrawn the Terms of Reference (ToR) for the 4X600 MW (2400) MW Coal Based Thermal Power Plant of M/s Jindal Power Ltd (JPL) at Tamnar in District Raigarh on the grounds that the company had started construction prior to the environment clearance, in violation of legal requirements under the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification, 2006. The MoEF has also written to the Government of Chhatisgarh to take legal and penal action against the company on grounds of the violations that have taken place [ See letters as Annexure 1 and 2].

If you recall, many of us had written to you on 8th June 2009 seeking to withdraw your support from the Golden Peacock award that was announced for M/s Vedanta on the grounds that the company has been involved in human rights and environmental violations. We are happy to note that the granters of the award had decided to withhold the award, and which is what is conveyed on your website: http://www.goldenpeacockawards.com/GPEMAawards.htm. However, we question the motivation and intent of the Golden Peacock Award which seems to each year choose the biggest violators of environmental laws and human rights to be the candidates for the honours. We also seek an explanation on whether the Golden Peacock awards have been reduced to indeed greenwashing the offences , and illegalities of the biggest corporate violators. With Satyam Computers and Vedanta as part of the list we are not surprised that JSPL has also found a place there.

However, as persons and organisations who have been witnessing these violations on a daily basis we cannot accept such repeated disregard and deliberate eyewash. We would like to bring to light the following facts for your attention, seeking you to withdraw your support from such a dubious award process and also apologise to the people of Raigarh where JSPL's operations are that of repeated offenders:

1. Environmental Violations by JSPL and associated companies in Raigarh: JPSL has a history of environmental violations in their various operations in Raigarh district and we highlight below with annexures some of these instances for your reference:

* As mentioned above, in June 2010, the MoEF has withdrawn the ToR for JSPL's proposed 4X600 MW (2400) MW Goal Based Thermal Power Plant of M/s Jindal Power Ltd (JPL)at Tamnar in District Raigarh. This was based on a site inspection carried out by a team comprising of representatives of MoEF's Bhopal regional office, Chhattisgarh Environment Conservation Board (CECB) and an ex-officer Central Pollution Control Board. The team during its site inspection on 22nd May 2010 found that the company had started construction of the proposed plant at a site which was granted clearance by the MoEF for a 4X250MW power plant. During an earlier inspection on 22nd February, the regional office of the MoEF had found that the company had begun construction without requisite permissions. Accordingly, the MoEF has withdrawn the ToR and also written to the Chhatisgarh government to take action.

* In a letter dated 22nd March 2010, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has directed the CECB, Raipur to look into the environment and pollution control related violations of JPSL's integrated steel plant in Patrapalli village. This was following a site inspection by the CPCB to the area in November 2009, which listed a range of pollution control norms that were not being followed by the company. (See Annexures 3 and 4).

* JSPL's operations in Raigarh have had a history of disregarding environmental norms, including the Nalwa Steel and Power Plant which has been granted the Golden Peacock Award. Attached with this letter in Annexure 5 is a case study highlighting the monitoring and compliance related issues with regards to JPSL's operations in Raigarh. Media writings on the violations with Nalwa's operations is also attached as as Annexure 6 where it has been highlighted that the construction for the expansion of the plant had started prior to the public hearing and grant of environmental clearance. It is also reported that the company is drawing huge quantity of groundwater without any No Objection Certificate and in violation of the environment clearance granted on 24.1.2007, which is impacting the drinking water and agricultural requirements of the nearby villages (Annexure 11).

2. Human Rights Violations and Accidents: Local newspapers almost regularly report on the human rights violations and accidents that are associated with company's operations within the district. Attached are news clippings on the tragic death of a 7 year old girl in April 2009 due to the illegal and callous dumping of fly ash around the plant site. Even though JSPL denied that they had any hand in the incident the evidence and sequence of events shows otherwise. Please see the attached articles and complaints to National Human Rights Commission as Annnexure 7 and 8. There are several other instances of labour deaths within the plant, illegal extraction of water and dumping of carcinogenic ash which have been reported in local newspapers. Some of them are attached as Annexure 9.

3. Harassment of Activists: JSPL has also filed false cases against villagers and activists who have been regularly raising their voice against the various violations by the company and have resisted their operations on grounds of irreparable impacts on people's livelihoods and the environment. The harassment has been towards silencing the few voices that have spoken out in public fora and through written complaints against the gross illegalities carried out by the company. Attached as Annexure 10 are news reports on the cases filed against Ramesh Agrawal who has been a consistent voice against the violation of environmental norms in Raigarh district by JSPL and the company. The MoEF has recently taken action against the 2400 MW plant based on the complaint filed by Mr. Agrawal, following which the regional office of the MoEF had undertaken a site inspection.

Given the range of evidence mentioned above, any award given to JSPL or any of its associated companies will only endorse the recorded and reported violations by the company in question. The awards are claimed to be "hallmark of corporate excellence because of their independence, integrity, transparency and through evaluation of application provides opportunity for self assessment and helps companies accelerate the performance and competition." Granting such an award, and that too in an environmental category to a company which is habitual in flouting environmental norms and disregarding human lives and livelihoods would be a shameful act. It would also be a complete disregard to the struggles and distress that communities living around the JSPL's plant sites in Raigarh go through each day of their lives.

We therefore demand that:

a) The jurors of the award immediately withdraw from such a process of "greenwash"
b) The award announced in the name of JSPL be withdrawn
c) The selectors of the environmental award to JSPL render an unconditional apology to the communities and activists that are bearing the brunt of JSPLs actions in their areas.
d) The jurors put in place credible systems for scrutiny of the potential awardees in case they intend to keep the reputations of the awards and all those associated with them beyond suspicion

We look forward to hearing from you with all of the above mentioned actions.

s/d

1. A Giridhar Babu, South Against Genetic Engineering [SAGE], Hyderabad
2. Aarthi Sridhar, Dakshin Foundation, Bangalore
3. Ajay Mahajan, Beej Bachao Andolan/Vividhara, Uttarakhand
4. Alliance for Democratising Agricultural Research in South Asia [ADARSA]
5. Anand Bala, Bangalore
6. Anuja Mirchandaney, Member, Alternative Law Forum,Bangalore
7. Amanda Perry-Kessaris (Professor), SOAS, University of London, UK
8. Amita Kanekar, Writer and Teacher, Goa
9. Akhila Sivadas, Centre for Advocacy and Research, New Delhi
10. Arati Chokshi, Bangalore
11. Armin Rosencranz, Stanford University, USA
12. Arun P.R, Green Alternatives, Mumbai
13. Arun Kumar Bidani, New Delhi
14. Ashwin Kumar, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA
15. Ajitha George Omon Mahila Sangathan, Jharkhand
16. Amar Kanwar, Filmmaker, New Delhi
17. Anand Patwardhan, Filmmaker, Mumbai
18. Anil Tharayath Varghese Delhi Solidarity Group, New Delhi
19. Anu Mandavilli, Friends of South Asia, San Francisco, USA
20. Archana Prasad, New Delhi
21. Aruna Rodrigues, Mhow, India
22. Ashish Fernandes, Greenpeace, Bangalore
23. Ashok Agrwaal, Advocate, New Delhi
24. K Babu Rao, Forum for Sustainable Development, Hyderabad
25. Benny Kuruvilla, Focus on the Global South, New Delhi
26. Bhaskar Goswami, Forum for Biotechnology & Food Security, New Delhi
27. Bhargavi S.Rao, Environment support Group, Bengaluru
28. Bipin Kumar, AHUTTI, Patna
29. Biswajit Mohanty, Wildlife Society of Orissa, Cuttack, Orissa
30. C N Suresh Kumar, Alliance for Food Sovereignty in South Asia [AFSSA], Hyderabad
31. Cherukuri Jayasri, AP Coalition in Defence of Diversity [APCIDD], Andhra Pradesh
32. D.S. Variava, Sahayak Trust, Mumbai
33. Debi, Goenka, Conservation Action Trust (CAT), Mumbai
34. Debjeet Sarangi, Living Farms, Bhubaneswar ,Orissa
35. Dinesh Kumar Mishra, Barh Mukti Abhiyan, Bihar
36. Dunu Roy, Hazards Centre, New Delhi
37. E.A.S.Sarma, Forum for Better Visakha, Visakahapatnam, Andhra Pradesh
38. G.Srinivas, Samata, Visakahapatanm, Andhra pradesh
39. Gaurav Sahai, Kheti Virasat Mission, Chandigarh
40. Geetanjoy Sahu, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
41. Gopal Krishna, Convener, ToxicsWatch Alliance, New Delhi
42. Guman Singh, Him Niti Abhiyan, Himachal Pradesh
43. Hartman D'Souza, Theatre Director and Writer, Pune and Goa.
44. Himanshu Thakkar, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People, New Delhi
45. Iain Frame, SJD Candidate, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
46. Jason Keith Fernandes, doctoral student, Goa
47. Joanna Van Gruisen, Baavan - bagh, aap aur van, New Delhi
48. Joe Athialy, New Delhi.
49. Kabir Arora, Indian Youth Climate Network, New Delhi
50. Kanchi Kohli, Kalpavriksh Environmental Action Group, New Delhi
51. Kailash Jani, Ganjam Zila Adivasi Mancha, Khalikote, Ganjam, Orissa
52. Kirankumar Vissa, Association for India's Development (AID), Hyderabad
53. Kundan Kumar, Asst. Professor, University of Toronto, Toronto, CA
54. Lakshmi Premkumar, Chennai
55. Lyla Bavadam, Mumbai
56. Manshi Asher, Independent Researcher, Palampur, Himachal Pradesh
57. Madhu Sarin, Chandigarh
58. Madhumita Dutta, Corporate Accountability Desk, Chennai
59. Madhuresh Kumar, National Alliance for People's Movements (NAPM), Delhi\
60. Malgosia Fitzmaurice (Professor), Department of Law, Queen Mary, University of London, UK
61. Mahesh Pandya, Paryavaran Mitra, Ahmedabad
62. Mamata Dash, Activist and Independent Researcher, New Delhi
63. Mangaraj Panda, OMRCC, Ganjam, Orissa
64. Manoj Mishra, Peace Institute, New Delhi
65. Manasi Pingle, Filmmaker, Mumbai
66. Michel Pimbert, Oxford, UK
67. K.Mrutyumjaya Rao, President wild Andhra paradesh, Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh
68. Namita Wahi, SJD Candidate, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
69. Nidhi Agarwal, Independent Researcher, New Delhi
70. Nitin Rai, ATREE, Bangalore
71. Nityanand Jayaraman, Independent Journalist and Researcher, Chennai
72. P.T. George, Intercultural Resources, New Delhi
73. P V Satheesh, Deccan Development Society [DDS], Pastapur Village, Andhra Pradesh
74. Pandurang Hegde, Appiko, Sirsi, Karnataka
75. Piyush Sethia, Human Rights and Environmental Activist, Salem, Tamil Nadu
76. Philip Tirkey BIRSA Mines Monitoring Centre, Jharkhand
77. Pradeep Esteves, Context India, Bangalore, India
78. Pratim Roy, Keystone Foundation, Kotagiri, Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu
79. R. Sreedhar, Environics Trust, mines minerals and PEOPLE, New Delhi
80. Raghunandan Velankar, RANWA, Pune
81. Rahul Saxena, Lok Vigyan Kendra, Palampur, Himachal Pradesh
82. Ramachandran Balachandran, San Franciso, USA
83. Ramana Kumar Kandula, Bapatala, Andhra Pradesh
84. Ramesh Agrawal, Jan Chetana, Raigarh
85. Ranjana Padhi, Feminist Activist, New Delhi
86. Rajesh Tripathy, Jan Chetana, Raigarh
87. Ravindranath,River Basin Friends(NE), Assam
88. Reshma Jathar, Independent Journalist and Researcher, Mumbai
89. Rifat Mumtaz, National Center for Advocacy Studies, Pune
90. Ritambhara Hebbar, Tata Institute of Socia Sciences (TISS), Mumbai
91. Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere (Retd), Mysore
92. S. Anand, Navayana Publishing, New Delhi
93. Salam Rajesh, Manipur Nature Society, Imphal, Manipur
94. Samir Mehta, Independent Activist, India
95. Samir Nazareth, Nagpur
96. Sanjay Basu Mullick, Jharkhand Jangal Bachao Andolan and NFFPFW
97. Sanjay Upadhyay, Advocate Supreme Court of India & Managing Partner, Enviro Legal Defence Firm, New Delhi
98. Mohan Bhagat, Prof of Physics, University of Md, College Park, Md , USA
99. Sayantoni Datta, Researcher,New Delhi
100. Sagari Ramdas, Anthra, Hyderabad
101. K.Shanmugavelayutham, Convenor TN-FORCES, Chennai
102. Sebastian Rodrigues, Goa Federation of Mines Affected People (GOAMAP), Goa
103. Shankar Sharma, Power Policy Analyst, Shimoga, Karnataka
104. Shalini Bhutani, New Delhi
105. Sharachchandra Lele, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Bangalore
106. Shripad Dharmadhikary, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Pune
107. Simanchal Nahak, Rushikulya Rayat Mahasabha, Chatrapur, Orissa
108. Soumitra Ghosh, North Bengal Regional Committee of NFFPFW/ NESPON
109. Sreetama Gupta Bhaya, Kalpavriksh Environmental Action Group, New Delhi
110. Sridhar R, Thanal, Kerala
111. Stan Swamy, Op. Green Hunt Virodhi Nagrik Manch, Jharkhand
112. Subrat Kumar Sahu, Independent Film Maker & Journalist, New Delhi
113. Sudarshan Suresh, San Jose, USA
114. Suman Sahai, Gene Campaign, Delhi, Ranchi
115. Surendery Tirkey Gen. Sec. Jharkhand Mines Area Coordination Committee (JMACC), Jharkhand
116. Sushmita Mandal, ATREE, Bangalore
117. Terence Jorge, Goa
118. Vandana Shiva, Research Foundation for Science Technology and Ecology (RFSTE), New Delhi
119. Ullhas Kumar, freelance journalist and documentary film maker, Bengaluru
120. Umendra Dutt & Kavitha Kuruganti, Kheti Virasat Mission, Punjab
121. Umesh Pakalapati, Chetana Society, Hyderabad
122. Usha S, Thanal, Kerala
123. V.S.Roy David, CORD/National Adivasi Alliance, Karnataka
124. Vatturi Srinivas, Millet Network of India [MINI], Hyderabad
125. Vikram Garg, University of Texas, Austin, USA
126. Wilfred Dcosta, INSAF, New Delhi
127. Xavier Dias, Editor, Khan Kaneej aur ADHIKAR, Jharkhand

Copy to:

1. GOLDEN PEACOCK AWARDS SECRETARIAT, IOD House, M-64, Greater Kailash-II, New Delhi-110048, INDIA Tel: 91-011-41636294 , 41636717, 41636735 Fax:91-011-29217475, Mobile: 00-91- 9811135151 E-mail: mkr@iodonline.com; info@goldenpeacockawards.com

2. Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State (Independent Charge), Environment and Forests, Paryavaran Bhavan, CGO Complex, New Delhi Emai: jairam54@gmail.com

 

 

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