MAC: Mines and Communities

South Asia Update

Published by MAC on 2006-12-02


South Asia Update

2nd December 2006

Thousands take to the streets to protest the Indian government's foot dragging over implementation of the country's new forest peoples' rights bill. It's already been diluted to suit the interests of mining companies and loggers.

Jindal is allegedly provoking attacks on opponents of its bauxite mining in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh - and farmers, up in arms at the proposal, are arrested when they try to attend a public hearing.

Worrying health figures emerge from a study of mineworkers in Orissa.

Earlier this year in West Bengal, 150 mineworkers went to their death as floodwaters invaded the illegal Gangtikuli mine. Appalling as the "accident" was, it was not unique...


Thousands Protest For Rights Over India's Forests

Planet Ark INDIA

30th November 2006

NEW DELHI - Thousands of India's poorest and most marginalised people gathered in the heart of New Delhi and other cities on Wednesday demanding rights over the remote forest land where they have lived for centuries.

Women in brightly coloured saris and men in turbans from far-flung rural areas waved banners and punched their fists in the air calling on the government to quickly pass a law recognising their rights. "Who will look after the forests? We will. We will," they chanted. "Who do the forests belong to? They belong to us."

More than 40 million people live in India's resource-rich forest areas including protected wildlife reserves and dense woodland, eking out a meagre living from simple farming, picking fruit and collecting honey.

For generations they have had no legal right to the land or the use of forest resources.

They say they have been treated as "encroachers" and "criminals" on their own land and forced to leave it by forestry officials, mining and logging companies.

"Millions of impoverished people ironically live in the richest lands in India, but they have not been able to benefit from the land," said Shankar Gopalakrishnan from the Campaign for Dignity and Survival, a union of forest community groups.

"EVICTED, BEATEN, TORTURED"

"Every year, hundreds of thousands are forcefully evicted, beaten, tortured and their homes are demolished by officials and businessmen who want to use the land for their own purposes."

Similar protests took place in the eastern cities of Bhubaneswar and Ranchi, where thousands of forest dwellers gathered, beating drums and chanting slogans. Fifty-four-year-old Rambati Bai said despite spending more than 60 years living in Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary in the eastern state of Orissa, she and her family were not allowed to call the forest home.

"Last year, the forest officials came to my village and told us to leave the forest. Is it that easy? How can we live in another place?" said the woman, clad in a shabby, crumpled white sari.

Others said they had been jailed for months for refusing to leave the land that they and their forefathers had cultivated for generations.

The government is expected to pass a new law -- the Recognition of Forest Rights Bill 2005 -- before the end of the year which would, for the first time, give forest dwellers the right to own the land they have been using.

But some wildlife groups have voiced concern about the bill, saying it would give too much protection to forest people and would threaten efforts to save endangered tigers.

Activists for the forest dwellers say the bill has already been watered down to give people little power after pressure by green groups and powerful logging and mining companies.

"The government is using conservation as an excuse not to give us rights," said S.R. Hiremath of Samaj Parivartana Samudaya, a local charity working with forest communities in the southern state of Karnataka.

"We are not a threat to the environment and not a threat to animals. For centuries, we have lived in co-existence with the environment and its destruction is because of the mining and paper companies."

Story by Nita Bhalla

REUTERS NEWS SERVICE


PRESS RELEASE

FOREST RIGHTS DHARNA SUCCESSFUL IN FIRST DAYS NCP LEADER PA SANGMA WRITES TO PRIME MINISTER IN SUPPORT OF FOREST RIGHTS BILL AND JPC REPORT Other Political Leaders Also Express Support

PRESS RELEASE

CAMPAIGN FOR SURVIVAL AND DIGNITY

In its first two days, the forest rights dharna has been a success, with representative from five States (Maharashtra, Nagar Haveli, Gujarat, Rajashtan, and Tamil Nadu) now present and other States arriving in the coming days.

Yesterday, the dharna also received the good news that former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma, General Secretary of the Nationalist Congress Party, has written to the Prime Minister demanding that the forest rights Bill be passed. Saying that this legislation "should not be allowed to be sabotaged or undermined due to misplaced concerns", Shri Sangma called on the government to accept the report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee, which he said "has done an excellent, objective and comprehensive job."

Shri Sangma specifically reported four of the key recommendations of the JPC and strongly objected to the government's stand on rejecting non-ST forest dwellers (some groups of which the JPC had recommended for inclusion) and the government's persistence with a cutoff date of 1980. He said the former amounted to "unfair discrimination."

Recent rumoured proposals of two Bills, one for SC's and one for ST's, would lead to "competitive politics around forest rights" and "damage both forests and tribals." He concluded by saying that, now that the JPC has completed its work, he "fails to understand why the Bill should now be further delayed."

Shri Faggan Khulaste of the Bharatiya Janata Party also visited the dharna yesterday to express his strong support for the cause of the forest dwellers and the tribals and their struggle for a just and effective forest rights Bill. Shri Baba Panchsare of the Dalit Adivasi Sangharsh Samiti (affiliated to the All India Forward Bloc) also visited the dharna on Wednesday to declare his solidarity.

The dharna received these good news with great enthusiasm. More people are arriving from Tamil Nadu and Chattisgarh in the coming days. The people are preparing for the large rally planned for the 29th, when 12,000 to 15,000 people are expected to march in Delhi, and around 80,000 in simultaneous demonstrations in Mumbai, Bhubaneshwar, Ranchi, Chennai and Bangalore.

LETTER OF SHRI P.A. SANGMA
Member, Lok Sabha
General Secretary, Nationalist Congress Party

To:
Dr. Manmohan Singh
Hon'ble Prime Minister of India

Sub:- Concerns regarding government's position on Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights) Bill, 2005

Dear Sir,

I am writing in connection with the Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights) Bill, 2005, one of the most historic initiatives undertaken by our UPA government. This initiative is further in fulfillment of a promise made in the CMP.

Sir, the draft Bill as tabled in Parliament was referred to a Joint Parliamentary Committee in December 2005. The JPC, chaired by Shri Kishore Chandra Deo of the Congress party, undertook a detailed consideration of the Bill and gave a unanimous report in May of this year with more than thirty recommendations. Sir, these are key recommendations and I believe that the JPC has done an excellent, objective and comprehensive job.

It is in this context that I am very disturbed to hear repeated reports from the press, my fellow Members of Parliament and other parties that sections in the government are fiercely opposed to the JPC's recommendations and are intent on rejecting them. Specifically four important recommendations are being opposed: empowerment of the gram sabha in the process of decision- making over rights; safeguards for resettlement of forest dwellers; changing the 1980 cutoff date; and inclusion of non-ST's in the ambit of the Bill.

Sir, the first of these recommendations is a Constitutional requirement in Scheduled Areas under the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, and moreover would guarantee transparency and accountability in the rights recognition process. Retaining the original Bill's provisions would lead to denial of rights and corruption. The second of these matters has already been de facto accepted by the government in the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act of this year, so once again I cannot see why it should now be opposed.

The remaining two matters are even more serious, particularly the 1980 cutoff date. This will lead to massive evictions across the country given the enormous amount of displacement, numbers of evictions etc. that have happened in the 26 years since that date. An entire generation has been born and come of age in that time. Further it is entirely arbitrary to hold that those who have been occupying and cultivating land since after 1980 should not have their rights recognized – but that 11 lakh hectares of forest land should allowed to be diverted for mining and industry in the same period. I am told further that the argument is being made that the Supreme Court is being seen as a threat to changing the 1980 date; sir, we are a democracy and cannot allow the Supreme Court to dictate to us on policy decisions which belong to the domain of Parliament. A recent cutoff date is the only just option.

I also support the inclusion of non-ST's in the manner that the JPC has recommended. While tribals are the original forest dwellers, one cannot ignore the large population of non-ST forest dwellers in many States who have resided in the forest and on their lands for generations. These people also have rights and their claims cannot be ignored. Therefore, the JPC had recommended that those who have lived in the forest for three generations should have their rights recognized, as well as those who have been forced into forest land by the government (such as forest villages, repatriates or displaced people). Not including these people amounts to unfair discrimination.

Finally, on this last issue I am particularly disturbed to hear rumours that the government is intent either on excluding non-ST's, on potentially drafting a separate legislation for SC's alone, leaving non-ST rights to be handled by executive orders, etc. Sir, these are all ideas that would result in a great deal of confusion on the ground, with a multiplicity of authorities. The notion of a separate legislation for SC's in particular would create a very dangerous precedent of deciding forest rights on the basis of caste identity, which in turn could lead to competitive politics around demanding forest rights. This would damage both the forests and the tribals.

Sir, there is growing discontent and unrest in forest and tribal areas across India due to the continued delay of the government in bringing this Bill. The JPC has studied the Bill and heard all parties; one fails to understand why the Bill should now be further delayed. I am sure your office and the concerned Ministries will take these matters into consideration when coming to a decision. This legislation is a matter of settling a historical injustice committed against the poorest people of our country. It should not be allowed to be sabotaged or undermined due to misplaced concerns.

Sincerely,

Contact:

CAMPAIGN FOR SURVIVAL AND DIGNITY
National Convenor: Pradip Prabhu, 3, Yezdeh Behram, Kati, Malyan,
Dahanu Rd. 401602.
Delhi Contact: Q-1 Hauz Khas Enclave, New Delhi 110 016. Ph: 26569023,
9968293978.


Violation of Human Rights, Farmers Arrestedat Public Hearing on Proposed Alumina Refinery by Jindal South West, in Visakhapatnam district, Andhra Pradesh, India

28th November 2006

An Environmental Public Hearing for JSW alumina plant was held in VUDA children's theatre at Visakhapatnam on 28/11/06. The affected farmers from the villages of Sabbavaram Mandal were prevented from entering the city and were stopped at Vepagunta village. The hall in which the public hearing was held was very small and overcrowded and was filled by the hired goons of the Jindal company, police and government employees.

The affected people could not enter the public hearing venue and were prevented by police and more than 50 poor farmers were arrested. Non-Political and non-party people were prevented from participating in the public hearing.

We are also shocked at the mockery of the public hearing process and demand that this public hearing be treated null and void on the following grounds:

1. The Information provided to the affected farmers and concerned people was very sketchy and insufficient and was not provided in the local language.

2. The public hearing was held in Visakhapatnam city instead of Sabbavarm mandal headquarters if not at Vangali panchayat. Most of the affected farmers who are busy with agricultural operations could not attend the public hearing as it was too as far as 25 kms from their village.

3. Those who tried to participate were brutally stopped by the police barricades and prevented from participating.

4. There are several technical, environmental and social flaws in the REIA which needs to be examined. The public hearing was held without obtaining the clearances from the Ministry of Environment and Forests although it has reserve forests within the proposed site.

The proposed refinery is connected to the Bauxite extraction by the same company in the heart of the Scheduled Tribal Area in the hills of Visakhapatnam district. The tribal people have been opposing the mining project where they are facing similar threats and harassment by the company hired goons and police. The noose around the farmers and the tribal people is being tightened by the State and corporate excesses.

Samata,

Visakhapatnam

Andhra Pradesh

India


URGENT ALERT (December 2 2006)

Outburst of Violence in Proposed Bauxite Mining Area, Visakahpatnam, India

The Jindal South West and its coterie of local mining contractors have increased the pressure on tribal communities opposing the proposed bauxite mining project. They are instigating surrounding villages with false promises and bribery, to get violent against the tribals in whose village the project is to be set up. There is tension building here with police and company people visiting the village and threatening them.

In order to hold a meeting and give support to the local campaign yesterday, a team of Samata activists went to Nimmlapadu village which is fighting against the proposed mine and has battled for the last 15 years even after the historic Supreme Court judgement. The team was accompanied by a group of teachers from Denmark who have come to learn about the injustice in the mining area.

Upon instigation from contractors and company people, some tribals from the downstream village descended on them and became violent. They beat up the people opposing the project and blocked the road preventing the vehicle and our team from leaving the area. Many people were injured in the conflict that errupted and our team is still caught inside the villages. We have somehow managed to get the team from Denmark out of the area and they are still on their way to Visakhapatnam. We still do not have information about our team and vehicle.

Samata,
Visakhapatnam


Industrialisation takes its toll

NewInd press

28th November 2006

BHUBANESWAR: As Orissa undergoes a transformation; industrialisation and urbanisation are leaving their marks. If it is progress somewhere, the obverse side is increasing incidence of diseases.

As focus is on mineral-based industries, pollution is taking its toll. According to a recent environment study, severity of water-borne diseases are slowly on the rise in the State while intensive mining has resulted in grave health hazards.

The State of Environment report released by the Orissa State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) says that at least 1.24 percent mining workers in -Barbil-Joda-Koira have contracted pulmonary tuberculosis while 11 percent have tested abnormal pulmonary function. Five percent of mine workers are diagnosed to have heart ailments and high blood pressure.

There are 59 mines in the study area where 4,590 persons were covered. Similarly, five percent of the surveyed population had chronic bronchitis, chronic bronchial asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Another 0.3 percent faces the threat of lung cancer, thanks to air pollution. Noise pollution has also been causing audiometric abnormalities in 5.5 percent of the workers.

Besides, the mineworkers also face chronic malaria, kidney disorder, skin diseases as well as tumour. If mines areas have a health problem of their own, industrialisation seems to have contributed significantly to water-borne diseases through contamination by microorganisms, chemicals, industrial waste and sewage.

As per the report, during 1999-2003 every year over 4 lakh acute diarrhoeal cases were reported from 423 health institutions of the State. Though the number of cases reported in OPD section showed a decline, there was a marked rise in the number of in-patients during the period.

Similar was the trend of acute respiratory infections. In 1999, the number of patients showing up at OPDs was over 12.5 lakh,which dropped to 8 lakh in 2003. But the in-patients number rose from just 19,000 to over a lakh during the period of five years.

'The decline in OPD patients is due to rapid growth of private hospitals and doctors in different parts of the State. No data is available from the private institutions but a rise in number of in-patients, indicating the severity of the disease,' the report stated.


India's illegal coal mines turn into death pits

By Shaikh Azizur Rahman, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

25th November 2006

ASANSOL, India -- When news of the midnight accident at the main coal pit at Gangtikuli reached the pregnant young wife of miner Pradip Bauri, she feared the worst.

By the time Kasuri Bauri and a boatload of fellow villagers -- all with relatives working at the mine -- reached the scene nearly two miles down the Damodar River, the illegal mine was completely flooded. Water was gushing through the shaft from an adjacent mine, and the villagers, armed with hand tools, were powerless to stop it.

"He died a painful death because no one will come in to help us in this illegal mine now. It is a wretched life," said Mrs. Bauri, banging her forehead against the wall of the pit, her grief played out before television cameras a day after the Aug. 1 disaster.

About 150 illegal miners are thought to have died in the pit, but it is doubtful the exact toll will ever be known. The case has brought attention to India's illegal mines, which are controlled by criminal syndicates.

Stories change

By the time police arrived at the Gangtikuli mine to investigate rumors of a disaster, Mrs. Bauri and others had changed their stories.

Police sources said that when she was asked if her husband was buried at Gangtikuli, she said her husband had no connection with illegal mining and he worked as a porter 220 miles away in Calcutta.

She repeated the same story to this reporter this week, but fellow villagers confirmed what was clear from the grief she showed on TV immediately after the disaster, that her husband was dead. Her brother-in-law also died in the mine, villagers said.

"Political pressure forced us to come to Gangtikuli. But villagers did not report any of their relatives missing here," said a police officer who attended the scene from the nearest police station.

Habul Bauri, a watchman at the illegal mine, said there were at least 150 persons working in the pit on the night of the flooding, and none escaped.

'Ordered' not to tell

The father of another miner said that hours after the accident, the criminal syndicate that ran the mine threatened the villagers not to tell anyone that they had lost family members in the pit.

"If it was a government-run mine, within minutes, a rescue operation would have begun. Simply because they were lifting coal illegally, we could not cry for help and the government did not help us," said Ganesh Bauri, a middle-aged man in the village of Khayer Kiyari which is thought to have lost about 30 men in the Gangtikuli accident.

"I have lost my son. But I cannot tell anyone of this big loss. I cannot even shed tears openly, I have been ordered. It makes the tragedy more painful for me." Now, three months after the mine disaster Kasuri Bauri and Ganesh Bauri are still afraid to reveal that they had lost their loved ones at the illegal coal mine at Gangtikuli.

Villagers say the local "coal mafia" routinely covers up such tragedies to keep their lucrative businesses running.

There are thought to be about 500 illegal mines run by about 150 different criminal groups and persons around the Asansol coal field, where Gangtikuli is located.

It is thought there are 60,000 illegal mines and about half a million illegal miners in the eastern Indian coal belt.

Bribes paid to police

A retired manager of a government-run coal field said the coal mafia could operate because bribes were paid to police and villagers worked in dangerous conditions simply to have a job.

"If a disaster as big as Gangtikuli's gets exposed at a national level, pressure from powerful agencies could stop illegal coal mining in the area, causing a massive loss to the mafias and others in the game," said the retired manager.

According to a study by DISHA, a social activist group in the east Indian mining city of Asansol, in the illegal coal mines in the West Bengal-Jharkhand coal belt every year about 300 large-scale accidents take place, killing at least 2,000 miners. In most cases the deaths go unreported because of a police-mafia nexus.

"A police inspector who earns an annual salary of 90,000 rupees (U.S. $2,000) can easily get 20 or 30 times as much in bribe from the mafias if he is posted anywhere in the coal belt. It is like winning a jackpot for him.

"He can never act against the operation of any illegal mine," said a local journalist.

When for safety or other feasibility-related reasons authorities stop lifting coal from a mine, it is filled up with sand, as per rule.

"But, mafias in no time take control of such abandoned mines, clear the sand and start lifting coal engaging a huge work force of miners on daily wage. These poor daily wage miners who, working under pressure from their bosses to lift as much coal as possible, often flout standard safety-related norms, inviting tragedies for themselves inside mine," said an officer with government-run Mines Rescue Station.

Press exposes dangers

However, extensive press coverage and a campaign by senior political figures have exposed both the severity of the Gangtikuli accident and the hazardous conditions that prevail across the illegal mining industry.

Finally, pressure from different quarters forced the government of West Bengal state, where Gangtikuli is located, to announce a crackdown on illegal mining in the area.

Two weeks after the Gangtikuli accident West Bengal's chief secretary, Amit Kiran Deb, said his government "would spare no means to stop illegal mining."

This week Mr. Deb said that police had closed down more than 1,500 illegal coal mines by the end of October.

"We have also arrested more than 500 illegal miners. Some trucks carrying illegal coal have been seized and our operation is continuing," said Mr. Deb.

But social analysts have expressed doubts about the ability of the government to shut down the mines.

"For decades the police-mafia nexus has remained in place. It is very difficult to dismantle this network of corruption. The long arm of organized crime can reach very high in the police administration. In one case action was taken against a police officer found to be in collusion with the coal mafia. But the officer who replaced him was found to be equally corrupt," said Kanchan Siddiqui, a commentator at the Calcutta-based daily Statesman.

"Maybe in the wake of the Gangtikuli disaster police have been forced to act against some mines. But it appears to be a temporary measure. Those mines will be operational again by the mafias soon, within a few months."

'Lifeblood' for people

One operator of an illegal coal mine in the Bardhaman district of West Bengal who employs about 120 miners admitted to paying a monthly bribe of 25,000 rupees (U.S. $540) to the police. He said when rain stopped work he did not pay the bribe.

"Sometimes they become angry and ask me to send the men to the pit as soon as possible. Sometimes I even feel that I am in this business to serve police or, I am employed by the police," he said.

Another illegal mine operator said many workers were prepared to brave the dangerous conditions because they can earn twice as much as the average rural laborer. He said even if the mines were closed, the workers themselves would find a way to mine the precious coal.

Those behind the illegal mining said they were providing much-needed jobs. One politician, who is rumored to run 15 illegal mines, described the trade as "the lifeblood for most people in this area."

"Up to 98 percent of the people involved are daily-wage miners. If illegal mining stops, these miners will be jobless," he said.

He said the region was infertile for farms and that traditional industries had dried up.

"In the interests of the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of poor families, we have to keep ignoring such accidents," he said.

In the last three months since the illegal mine disaster in Gangtikuli killed about 150 miners 13 accidents have taken place inside illegal coal mines in the coal fields of eastern India killing at least 80 miners.


Maoists protest leasing of mines in Chhattisgarh

25th November 2006

Raipur, Nov 25 (IANS) Security forces were deployed in Chhattisgarh's Dantewada district Saturday to safeguard Tata and Essar steel units as the Maoist rebels forced a dawn-to-dusk strike in the region.

The Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) gave the strike call to protest against the state government decision to lease Bailadila iron ore mining to the two private companies.

'Thousands of paramilitary troopers and police force have been deployed at sensitive points and key mining installations in Dantewada,' Inspector General of Police Girdhari Nayak told IANS over phone.

'Fortunately, there have been no untoward reports so far,' he said in the afternoon.

Bailadila in Dantewada district has large iron ore stocks, divided into 14 deposits. The state government recommended to the centre last month to award mining lease to Tata Steel for 150 million tonnes from Deposit No.1 and to the Essar group for 32 million tonnes from Deposit No.3.

CPI-Maoist's Dandkaranya special zonal committee spokesman Gudsa Usendi has called upon Maoist cadres to ensure a total strike in Dantewada on Nov 25 to protest the decision.

Home Minister Ramvichar Netam said: 'Over 10,000 paramilitary troopers and members of the Chhattisgarh police force have moved to Dantewada and in and around Bailadila iron ore facilities.'

A home department official said the strike affected vehicular traffic in Sukma and Konta blocks and some areas of Bhansi, where Essar has planned a steel plant, as transporters kept off the road.

Chhattisgarh is one of the 13 states affected by Maoist violence and rebels have killed about 400 people this year including 312 civilians. The rebels claim to fight for India's poor peasants and landless labourers.


Hindalco joins race for Afghan copper deposit

PRINCE MATHEWS THOMAS

TIMES NEWS NETWORK

27th November 2006

MUMBAI: HINDALCO Industries has bid for rights to develop Afghanistan's Aynak copper deposits, which has proven reserves of 240 million tonnes. The project, which will require investments of $1billion over five years, is part of the government's plan to revive the mining industry in the Afghanistan which took a hit during the Taliban regime.

Hindalco will have to compete with eight others, including Canadian Hunter Dickinson, China Metallurgical Group, US-based Phelps Dodge Corporation and Russian state-controlled foreign trade company Tyazhpromexport. Sources said that the companies were shortlisted by Afghanistan's Ministry of Mines and Industries last week and the results will be announced in two months. "Extraction from the mines is expected to begin in two years," they said. "It is premature to comment," said a Hindalco spokesperson.

The move significance in the backdrop of Hindalco closing one of its smelters at its Dahej unit following raw material shortage. Hindalco had said that due to disruption of production in some mines globally, availability of concentrate in international markets has become scarce. Copper deposits in India are negligible.

Political and economic risks are high in Afghanistan and Indians working there have recently been targeted by the Taliban. Earlier this year, a telecom engineer from Hyderabad was kidnapped and killed by Taliban. last year, a driver with India's Border Roads Organisation, which is helping Afghanistan rebuild its infrastructure, became a victim.

But Aynak is believed to be "safer" than most of the other 200 mining sites in the country. The deposit site, situated 30 km south of Kabul, was earlier an Al-Qaeda terrorist training camp. It was first explored by the erstwhile Soviet Union in the 1970s and is Afghanistan's biggest mine. Afghanistan is believed to be rich in iron ore, natural gas, coal and petroleum.

If successful, Hindalco will need to invest at least $200 million initially to put the machinery in place, but experts say mining costs could be low as the copper ores are located near the surface and "thus easy to mine." An industry analyst added: "Deposits of this size can produce up to 2,20,000 tonne of copper over 20 years."

Hindalco's Dahej facility has a capacity of 5,00,000 tonne a year and more than half of its copper concentrate requirement is met from its captive mines in Australia, which it acquired in 2003. The company's latest initiative aims to make itself fully self-reliant in raw material needs. The Aditya Birla Group, say sources, is also looking at similar opportunities in Africa.


Metal major gives state a miss

The Telegraph (Kolkota)

Jamshedpur, Nov. 27: The beeline of MoUs in the state notwithstanding, mining major Vedanta has decided to give Jharkhand a miss, at least for the time being.

S. Venkatesh, president of the human resource group of the company, said this while addressing the CEO forum at XLRI.

During the session, Venkatesh laid emphasis on the various mining projects undertaken by Vedanta to rank itself as one of the top five metal producers in the world.

Vedanta, however, is a subsidiary of the Bangalore-based Sterlite Industries Private Ltd and is the only Indian company to get a primary listing in the London Stock Exchange.

Ironically, the company has today invested in a multi million crore project in Orissa and Chhattisgarh but somehow Jharkhand has been completely left out of its agenda.

Venkatesh said: "We would surely like to explore new opportunities in the state but for now we are not making any investment in Jharkhand," said Venkatesh.

While a 2,400 MW power plant is coming up in Jharsugoda and a similar project is also in the pipeline in Chhattisgarh, the HR president, said, if the situation changes, the company might be interested in the state's coal mines.

"We are not interested in selling coal. What we are looking at is taking coal mines and using the coal for our power plants and other mining units, but that would only happen if the state government opens up its bid for privatisation of coal mines in the state," he added.

The corporate head also showed concern on the lack of enthusiasm among engineering students in taking up careers in mining.

 

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