MAC: Mines and Communities

Agarwal's juggernaut rolls on regardless

Published by MAC on 2011-01-31
Source: Times of India, CNN-IBN

- if not through the fields of Academe

India's home-grown, but foreign-fed, mining supremo Anil Agarwal never lets the opportunity slip to postpone the (almost) inevitable.

His UK-listed company, Vedanta, backed by the Orissa state government and local supporters, has been pressuring India's environment ministry to reverse its decision last year to ban a 6-fold expansion of its alumina refinery in Lanjigarh.

And this - even as the country's Human Rights Commission expresses strong fears that construction of the plant has already forcibly displaced local villagers.

Meanwhile, young people in Chhattisgarh have blockaded ore shipments from Vedanta's Mainpat bauxite mine -itself believed to supply ore to the Lanjigarh refinery.

The protestors complained that, while destroying the environment, the company was neither offering them employment nor providing local infrastructure. 

However, Mr Agarwal now finally seems to have failed in launching his dream university on purloined land  in Orrisa.

Last week, India's Supreme Court confirmed last year's High Court order that he quit the area. See: Orissa HC rules Vedanta University land acquisition illegal and void

Rights body monitor to probe displacement in Lanjigarh

Times of India

20 January 2011

BHUBANESWAR: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) will soon send its special rapporteur to study displacement of people at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district due to Vedanta's refinery plant and the problems faced by them.

The commission took the decision at its two-day camp sitting here in response to petitions filed on the matter. "In the matter of Vedanta, the commission took a strong note of the land acquisition policy of the state and directed that all the affected persons should be rehabilitated. The commission asked its special rapporteur to examine the action taken [in a]  report of the state government," a NHRC release issued here said.

NHRC member Satyabrata Pal said: "We have received two complaints on Vedanta, one on displacement of people at its alumina refinery plant and another on the mining issue. Since the mining issue is all but put at rest for now, we are only examining the complaints relating to the refinery and displacement caused by it."

The NHRC heard a total of 52 cases, including complaints on Tata Steel project at Kalinga Nagar and that of Posco's near Paradip on which the commission directed the state government to "submit a comprehensive report on rehabilitation and compensation status of displaced persons".

NHRC chairman K G Balakrishnana told mediapersons that Orissa should take utmost care to safeguard human rights in view of the emerging industrial activities.

"Orissa is aiming at massive industrialization. We are apprehensive about whether human rights will be violated when such massive industrialization takes place."

SC orders status quo on Vedanta University


28 January 2011

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday ordered status quo on acquisition of 6,000 hectares of land for Vedanta University project in Orissa.

The Supreme Court rejected the plea of Orissa government and Anil Agarwal Foundation and upheld Orissa High Court's stay on Vedanta University project.

An apex court bench of Justice DK Jain and Justice HL Dattu ordered status quo on the "nature, character and possession" of the land acquired or sought to be acquired.

The Supreme Court was moved by the Orissa government and the Anil Agarwal Foundation - an organisation associated with the project - challenging the Orissa High Court verdict faulting the land acquisition in the project on 17 counts.

The High Court had directed the government and the Vedanta University authorities to return the acquired land to its original owners.

(With inputs from IANS)

Protesters halt BALCO's bauxite shipment


23 January 2011

RAIPUR: Hundreds of youths led by a Congress legislator halted shipment of bauxite Saturday to aluminium major Bharat Aluminium Company Ltd (BALCO) in Chhattisgarh's Surguja district, demanding jobs for local residents.

Vedanta Resources-controlled BALCO - in which the Indian government holds 49 percent stake, is based in Korba town, about 250 km from here. BALCO gets bauxite from Mainpat in Surguja.

Hundreds of protesters led by Amarjeet Bhagat, the legislator from Sitapur that includes Mainpat mining area, squatted on roads near the bauxite mining area and stopped the mineral's transportation to BALCO.

The protesters were raising slogans against BALCO for exploiting natural resources of Surguja district without offering employment to local people and developing infrastructure.

They threatened to halt bauxite mining to BALCO for an indefinite period if the company management did not open an aluminium plant in Surguja district to offer employment to local youths of poverty-hit families.

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