MAC: Mines and Communities

Times of India attacks yet another parlous Vedanta ploy

Published by MAC on 2011-01-17
Source: Times of India, Goa Herald

Vedanta plc's Indian iron ore mining subsidiary, Sesa Goa, wants the government of Goa to build a road which would convey ore to a new mining jetty.

Villagers are outraged at the proposal, claiming that it violates coastal zoning legislation, doesn't serve any public purpose, and will jeopardise vital agricultural resources and mangroves in the area.

They have been trying to halt construction of the jetty and the road since mid-Summer 2010.

Says a representative of the local people's organisation: "We fail to understand why the government is so keen to acquire land and construct a road for the mining company"

(Some close Vedanta-watchers may think they know the answer to that!)

Panchwadi locals say no to mining road

Times of India

7 January 2011

MARGAO: In what appears to be blatant disregard for environmental laws and ecological concerns, the PWD [Goa Public Works Department] has invited tenders for construction of a 10.5 km road from Codli to Panchwadi cutting through thick cashew plantations, orchards, khazan lands and paddy fields.

This, in gross violation of the directives of the Goa coastal zone management authority (GCZMA) to the PWD to withdraw the tender notice as the proposed road work doesn't have the mandatory CRZ clearance.

Significantly, it is learnt that the road doesn't serve any public purpose and is being built solely to facilitate transportation of mineral ore to a mining jetty proposed to be constructed by a mining company.

Addressing a press conference on Thursday, Panchwadi villagers, rallying under the banner of the Panchwadi Bachao Samiti (PBS), denounced the moves of the government to construct "an illegal private mining road for a mining company through the middle of our village under the guise of public purpose."

PBS president, Christev D'Costa, addressing reporters, pointed out to a letter written to the PWD by the GCZMA directing it to withdraw the tender notice and stop all further action in the matter.

"The CRZ authority has confirmed that the land earmarked for the stacking and loading of iron ore lies within CRZ-I, with dense mangrove forests, and that the PWD does not possess valid CRZ clearances for the works," D'Costa said.

D'Costa also pointed out to a letter written by the director of mines and geology, Arvind Lolienkar, to the PWD, stating that the proposed road doesn't come under the purview of the steering committee for mining bypasses headed by the state's chief secretary. "By attempting to build a so-called mining bypass road without involving the department of mines and geology, or obtaining the sanction of the steering committee, the PWD has openly displayed its ill-intentions," D'Costa said.

"The fact is that the proposed 10.5 km long road doesn't connect to any village road, district road or state highway in Panchwadi. It directly leads to a riverside plot where (a mining company) has proposed to construct a mining jetty. We fail to understand why the government is so keen to acquire land and construct a road for the mining company," Durgesh Shisany, secretary of the PBS.

Panchwadi villagers complain against building mining road

Goa Herald

Panchwadi villagers complain against building mining road

30 August 2010

Panchwadi villagers along with Fr Rodrigues called on the Minister for Environment Alexio Sequeira at his Raia residence on Monday morning regarding construction of mining road through their village.

The villagers enlightened the Minister of the ill effects and other problems of dust pollution, heavy traffic in their small village etc. The minister gave them a patient hearing and offered to help the villagers by stopping the construction of the mining road meant for a mining company, but however did not give a concrete promise that the road will be scrapped.

The villagers were happy with the meeting as the minister understood their problem and offered whatever help he can.

Villagers maintained that acquisition of 40 hectares of mangrove forest will destroy the eco sensitive area, adding that the land acquisition will destroy mangroves etc.

The mining company had purchased 30 hectares of mangrove forest for mining road and dumping of ore, but since this area was tenented they could not construct the road. Villages alleged that the company now want the Goa government to buy their 30 hectares and another 10 hectares from other owners to construct mining road and loading and unloading of iron ore an the banks of river Zuari.

The sawant and karapurkar commitee and TERI report conforms the existance of mangrove forest in this area. If road is constructed the moisal dam which supplies water to the whole village and surrounding areas will get polluted and the whole village will be affected, the villagers added.

GOAMAP condemns mineral loot of Goa via Panchwadi

By Sebastian Rodrigues


15 July 2010

Goa Federation of Mines Affected People (GOAMAP) strongly condemns forceful, illegal cutting down of Mangroves and physical assault on the four people in Panchwadi yesterday to benefit Sesa Goa mining company.

Yesterday Panchwadi villagers along with the Forest department physically stopped mangroves cutting carried on by few people to benefit Vedanta owned Sesa Goa in their plans to construct ore loading point. In this process four people - Costao Fernandes, Derek D'Costa, Nazareth Goadinho and Classey Costa - were assaulted one of whom - Derek D'Costa - suffered injuries and had to be hospitalized.

GOAMAP is happy that police at Ponda Police station has arrested some of the culprits and demand that remaining once in hiding be also traced and booked as per law.

GOAMAP urges Vedanta mining company not to indulge in violence henceforth as it is not going to serve the purpuse of frightening and demoralizing people resisting mining industry.

GOAMAP also condemns scientist Arvind G. Untawale, former director of National Institute of Oceanography, Dona Paula who has prepared report for Goa Government declaring that there are no mangroves in Panchwadi to benefit Sesa Goa mining company. GOAMAP advises Dr. Untawale and other scientists not to indulge in unethical practices to favour mining industry.

GOAMAP further condemns Goa Government for twice issuing land acquisition notice for 34 meter wide mining road through forest in Panchwadi. GOAMAP is convinced that Goa Government is merely facilitator of mining plunder of Goa and hence must be thrown out. GOAMAP also condemns Goa's opposition leader Manohar Parrikar for advocating mining by-pass to facilitate Goa's mineral loot.

Canada's Northwest & Ethical divests from Vedanta

Ethical investor becomes the latest institution to exit mining firm

By Daniel Brooksbank

6 January 2011

Northwest and Ethical Investments, the Canadian socially responsible investment management firm with around C$4.5bn (€3.4bn) in assets under management, has dumped FTSE100-listed metals and mining group Vedanta over lack of progress on human rights and environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.

Northwest & Ethical - now known as NEI Investments - revealed in its new ESG Program Annual Report for 2010 that it has dumped the company. It said: "Working in collaboration with colleagues in Europe, we have been able to express dissatisfaction with company leadership on ESG issues. In particular, risks faced in India were highlighted. To date, we have been unhappy with the company's response."

Vedanta was on NEI's Focus List for 2010. "After meetings with management and the Chairman, [we] determined that it no longer meets our baseline expectations," NEI said.

NEI is following investors like PGGM and the Church of England in ditching Vedanta over the company's operations in the Indian state of Orissa. Last July, APG Asset Management, the wholly-owned fund manager of the ABP Dutch civil service pension fund, abstained on the vote on Vedanta's report and accounts.

NEI also revealed that it is working with other signatories to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment to express concern about Italian energy firm Eni's operations in the Congo.

NEI said it would focus on executive compensation in the 2011 proxy voting season, holding companies to account for executive compensation packages "not explicitly linked to company performance".

"Executive compensation plans," it argues, "need to be based on pay-for-performance principles, in theory and in practice." This should include performance on material ESG. NEI says it has already approached major financial institutions and oil and gas companies held within its Ethical Funds portfolios on "problematic" compensation practices.

"Depending on the individual company response, shareholder proposals may be filed to draw more attention to the issue," NEI states.

NEI added that it would also continue to push for more aggressive action on oil sands issues - both at the individual company and policy level.

The report reveals some notable successes in company engagement in 2010. It achieved 18 goals in 61 dialogues with companies on its focus list, with another 25 dialogues resulting in "significant progress". Of 17 shareholders resolutions filed, nine were withdrawn after positive responses from companies. It went against management in 39% of the 6,960 proxies it voted.

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