MAC: Mines and Communities

India: Jindal Steel makes bloody attacks against Orissa villagers

Published by MAC on 2012-02-07
Source: Statement, Odisha360, Business Standard (2012-02-01)

On January 25 2012, enraged local villagers protested against India's Jindal Steel & Power (JSPL) over lack of compensation following take over of their land for the Angul Steel plant in Orissa.

"Security" forces thereupon viciously attacked demonstrators, wounding many women and men.

Photos of the carnage are available on the video - see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tU7uphTnLw

JSPL is one of India's biggest steel producers: it also controls the huge and highly controversial El Mutun iron ore mine in Bolivia, half of whose reserves the country's president threatened to take over last November. See: Bolivian government threatens to take over half an Indian mine

In related postings (below) the New Delhi-based environmental magazine, Down to Earth, reports on World Bank investment in a polluting steel mill, located in the neighbouring state of Jharkhand.

Also, one of India's leading environmentalists casts her eye over India's mining landscape, amidst a raft of recent, proposed, and contradictory changes to existing legislation.

On Peaceful Protesters in Odisha

Statement

31 January 2012

We are extremely shocked and distressed over the barbaric inhuman violence on peaceful protesters especially woman by the security guards and hired goons of Jindal steel plant in Angul, Odisha. There has been series of attacks on unarmed peaceful protesters against forcibly land grab all over Odisha.

A victim of the violence at Jindal Protest. Source: 'Blood stains video'
A victim of the violence at Jindal Protest
Source: 'Blood stains video'

On 25th January 2012 when the entire Nation was gearing up for the Republic day celebrations and the Indian ruling classes, the big business and the corporate media was busy trumpeting the arrival of India major economical power house these recurring brutal violence by the corporate goons on mass movements in Odisha exposes the hollowness of our rulers claim of India being the world largest democracy.

On 25th January 2012 around four thousand men and women went to Jindal Steel Plant, Angul to demand a justified compensation for the land forcibly grabbed from them and also to demand jobs which was promise to them both by the Company and Odisha Government.

When the procession arrived in the factory security guard of the Jindal Steel Company and hired goons brutally attacked men and women especially women who were in the front against the struggle. The barbaric scene is difficult to explain to in words. In front of a large posse of police the hired goons in the security guards of Company attached them with iron rods and stick.

Fatally * injuring more than two hundred men and women, many of them are now admitted in SCB Medical College, Cuttack and different hospitals in Angul. Women were beaten ruthlessly with iron rods their cloths were torn, they were bleeding profusely, the bestiality of the goons reached most shocking and appalling limits when some of them inserted iron rods into the private parts of the women.

There is nothing much to say after this about the great proclamation of Odisha Chief Minister about the so called great peaceful industrialization of Odisha. When an FIR [First Infpormation Report] was lodged [at] the local police station, none of the senior executive of the company including the CEO was arrested except the token arrest of the security officer.

This incident is a horrifying indicator of the growing state and corporate attacks on peaceful mass movement of Odisha. In November 2011, the hired goons of POSCO in front of a large contingent of police men attacked the peaceful protesters of the Anti-POSCO struggle in Jagatsinghpru District Odisha, with bombs killing one an injuring many.

We strongly condemn this dastardly attack on peace protesters against Jindal Steel Company in Odisha, we demand immediate arrest of the CEO and other senior executive of Jindal Steel Plant registering criminal case against them for brutally attacking people injuring men and women.

We demand the dismissal and trial of all the policemen, who was present during this inhuman shameful incident including SP of the district.

We appeal to all the progressive, democratic, Human Rights and Women's Organizations to condemn the incidents and demand action against the culprits.

Prafulla Samantara NAPM / Lok Shakti Abhiyan

Sudhir Patnaik Editor, Samadrusti

Ajit Jha Samajwadi Jan Parishad

Kiran Saheen Media Action Group, Delhi

Sehenaz Malek Arman Mahila Sangathan, Ahmedabad

Mamata Das NFFPW / POSCO Pratirodh Solidarity, Delhi

Subrat Kumar Sahu POSCO Pratirodh Solidarity, Delhi

Asit Das POSCO Pratirodh Solidarity, Delhi

Bhanumati Gochhait POSCO Pratirodh Solidarity, Delhi

Rita Kumari Pravasi Nagarik Manch, Delhi

Ranjeet Thakur Journalist, Uttarakhand

P.K. Sunderam Research Scholar, JNU

* Editorial note: As of 5 February 2012, there have been no reports that any demonstrators have died as a result of their injuries.


SPL Clash: Political Parties Sought Intervention of OHRC

Odisha360 News Bureau

1 February 2012

Bhubaneswar: Members of various civil society organizations on Tuesday sought the intervention of Orissa Human Rights Commission (OHRC)to ensure justice to the people injured in the clash between the villagers and the security guards at the plant site of Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) at Angul last Tuesday.

A protest rally including the members of Lokshakti Abhiyan (Odisha), Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Odisha Jana Manch, Odisha, CPI (M) D. M. A had submitted a petition to OHRC on the JSPL clash issue.

It is noteworthy to mention that the violent clash had taken place when the security guards of JSPL hit the villagers when they were demonstrating near Kaliakata gate of the steel plant, demanding jobs and proper rehabilitation in the project.

The villagers alleged that the company defied the Government's direction and gave employment to outsiders ignoring the interest of the local people who gave away their land for the industry.


Orissa urges Angul officials to restore law & order

Business Standard

28 January 2012

Kolkata/ Bhubaneswar - Concerned over the violence that erupted recently at the site of steel plant proposed by Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL) near Angul, Chief Secretary B K Patnaik has urged the district administration to examine the matter seriously and take steps to restore law and order.

"We have asked the district administration to examine the matter seriously and restore law and order at the site of violence. The district administration has also been instructed to check if the company is complying with the local employment clause", Patnaik told reporters.

Following the violence, construction work on the steel project has come to a halt for the past four days.

Meanwhile, the stir continued unabated at the project site with the irate locals staging blockade on National Highway (NH)-55 and Angul-Chhendipada road for five hours on Friday in protest against the assault on the locals by JSPL's security personnel. The peeved locals of 40 villages held a meeting on Friday at Badakerajanga where they vowed to paralyze the construction work.

The agitating people have been demanding more compensation for their acquired land, regular employment, free medical treatment at the JSPL hospital and free electricity to their villages.

The people also alleged that the company had been employing workers from outside the state while land oustees and local people were being ignored.

Rajesh Jha, executive director, JSPL has appealed to the agitating locals to come forward for negotiations and end the agitation.


Human rights body probe sought into Jindal Steel attack case

Times of India

1 February 2012

BHUBANESWAR: Members of various civil society organizations sought the intervention of Orissa Human Rights Commission (OHRC) on Tuesday to ensure justice for around 200 people who were injured in an alleged attack by security guards of a private company in Angul.

The members took out a protest rally to OHRC and submitted a petition saying security guards of Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) attacked hundreds of people on January 25 when they went to the company office to present their demands. The injured included residents of 40 villages, who were affected by the JSPL project in Angul.

Tension had erupted when the villagers were demonstrating near Kaliakata gate of the steel plant last Tuesday, demanding jobs and proper rehabilitation in the project when the security personnel of JSPL chased them. The villagers and security personnel pelted stones on each other, leading to a brawl.

In their petition to the OHRC, civil society members said the company's 'hooliganism' and the 'silence' of the administration has made life of poor people affected by the project unsafe. They sought the commission's intervention to ensure people's safety and proper treatment of the injured.

Those who lost their land to the project were not getting proper compensation and were frustrated of approaching the company time and again to no avail, the petition said.

Most people injured in the incident have been simply lying in the verandah of the Angul district headquarter hospital and are not receiving proper treatment. The injured include at least 50 women, the petition pointed out.

Lokshakti Abhiyan president Prafulla Samantaray, who visited some of the injured in the Angul district hospital and participated in Tuesday's rally, said there is an urgent need to ensure proper medical care to them.

"They have been beaten up mercilessly on their lower limbs and back. It appears to be a planned attack by the security guards," he said.

Speaking to reporters about the situation in Angul, chief secretary B K Patnaik said the district collector has been told to take steps to bring normalcy in the area.

"Bringing normalcy also includes compensation and rehabilitation of the affected. We will see if the company had followed the cabinet decision and properly compensated the people," he said.


Death, Debt and Climate Change

By Nihcola Mirzoeff

Occupy 2012 Blog

1 February 2012

There were 2900 temperature records set in the United States in January. Exxon Mobil reported yesterday that its quarterly profits had increased to $9.6 billion on revenues of over $70 billion. It's 60 degrees on February 1 in New York City. These facts are connected. I continue to think that one reason Bloomberg evicted OWS was that he lost patience with waiting for it to get cold enough to drive the Occupiers out.

I have proposed that "debt is death." It sounds a bit melodramatic. You can in fact map connections between the debt-financed globalized industries, direct violence caused by their expansion, and the indirect but nonetheless deadly violences of climate change.

Here's a metonymic example from the flows of media that pass through our tired brains seeking for attention. My friend Shuddhabrata Sengupta, the artist, activist and academic, circulated this video of events in Orissa, India. At a protest outside a Jindal Steel plant on January 25, 2012 at least 160 people were injured, some seriously, including over 50 women. According to The Times of India:

Most people injured in the incident have been simply lying in the verandah of the Angul district headquarter hospital and are not receiving proper treatment

The protestors were villagers, who are set to lose their land to global steel conglomerate Jindal Steel and Power.

Fearing further violence, the villagers refuse to meet the company except in the presence of media representatives. Jindal themselves tell the media they have no objection to this but in fact have evaded doing so. These people are the local costs of the "growth" solution to the global economic crash.

Shuddhabrata further points out that via its Foundation, Jindal is a major supporter of Art India magazine, a leading art journal with top national and international contributors. Jindal USA also promote themselves arts and culture donors, although the link simply takes you to the Indian site.These patterns of "art-washing" are familiar enough, as are the disclaimers about doing some good and so on.

Jindal take it a step further by their intricate association of debt financing to support global expansion of the most damaging forms of heavy industry in terms of carbon emissions and other toxic pollution.

It has a giant $9 billion steel plant in Texas and is building a "2,640 megawatt coal-fired power plant in the northern province of Tete, home to some of the world's largest untapped coal reserves" in Mozambique. Together with expansion in India, the company is set to deploy $6 billion, two-thirds of which it will borrow.

At a conference in Australia this week, Jindal revealed the basis for this confidence: it will use a new form of steel-forging, using soft coal and iron ore rather than expensive coking coal to generate heat. As a result, Jindal is buying its own coal mining concessions in India.

Soft coal is recognized to be far more polluting even than standard "hard" coal, creating higher emissions of greenhouse gases because it generates less heat per unit burned and because its side-products are more toxic. Of course Jindal would deny this and they have boiler plate on their website about the environment.

In one sense it doesn't really matter. The International Energy Authority reported last year that if you calculated all the power stations that were already scheduled to be built, that alone would take carbon emissions to the maximum if temperature rise is to be restricted to two degrees celsius and 450 parts per million of carbon dioxide and equivalents. Each of these billion dollar expansions, debt-financed and justified in the name of growth, adds more emissions to the atmosphere, pushing us still further into environmental crisis.

The women in Orissa who have no homes thanks to Jindal will not be the last. Making these interfaces visible needs a new Rachel Carson. Mind you, were she to be at work, she would not find a receptive audience. Republicans in Congress today ordered the arrest of Academy-award nominated filmmaker Josh Fox, whose Gasland vividly shows the disasters of fracking. Presumably they didn't want the publicity. Just like Jindal. This is why we occupy: it creates a medium, which creates a message.


Pollution glorified

By Umashankar S, Sanjeev Kumar K.

Down To Earth (India)

15 February 2012

World Bank arm finances polluting steel mill in Jharkhand

As the train slowly approaches Jamshedpur town in Jharkhand, the sky begins to turn reddish. It is because of the thick red dust emanating from an industrial unit, surrounded by heaps of industrial solid waste comprising unburnt coal char and flyash. The unit is a medium-scale iron and steel mill belonging to conglomerate Usha Martin.

Spread over 120 hectares, the mill became operational in Adityapur, a suburb of Jamshedpur, in 1974. It includes two mini blast furnaces, three coal-based sponge iron kilns of capacity 350-tonne-per-day and a steel-making unit with three electric arc furnaces. While sighting polluting sponge iron units in the eastern part of India is common, what is intriguing about the Usha Martin mill is that it received funding from the private sector development arm of the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

In 2002, IFC bought 14.5 per cent equity stake in Usha Martin-about (US $24.6 million). The money, as the IFC statement shows, was granted for setting up the sponge iron kiln along with a 7.5 MW power plant that uses waste hot gases from the kiln. At that time, Dimitris Tsitsiragos, the then director of IFC-South Asia, had said the company's efforts "in the field of environment protection and social improvement in the region it is operating in are one of the factors that has made us invest in the project".

While approving the financing, IFC concluded that Usha Martin falls under the bank's Category B of Environmental Impact scale for funding. This category refers to projects with potential limited adverse social or environmental impacts, which are generally site-specific, largely reversible and can be readily addressed through mitigation measures.

The dirty present

Pollution from the mill has disturbed lives of more than five nearby villages.

Tarak Nath of Jhurkuli complains thick red dust from the mill's steel melting furnaces has been affecting all the 80 households in the locality. People, especially children, are suffering from respiratory problems. "There is no medical facility available. We have to go to the town for treatment," Nath says.

The Sitarampur dam, a major water source, has been contaminated as the mill discharges untreated wastewater into the dam. Ganesh Mondal of Jhargobindpur village says the mill dumps its solid waste, generated from the kilns, near the main railway line, affecting lives of 100 households. "During rains, the heavy metals leach into the ground," says Mondal. During nights, the extent of emissions is very high. "When we wake up in the morning, the entire village is covered in thick layer of red dust," says Nath.

Many residents, who earlier used to depend on farming, are working in nearby industrial units, including the Usha Martin mill, as daily wage labourers. "Pollution from the Usha Martin mill has made the agricultural land unproductive," says Mondal. People got jobs in the mill, but through contractors who take a larger share of money earned by the residents, he adds.

Occupational safety-related accidents occur frequently within the plant. Six workers have been reported dead in the plant since 2007 due to various accidents.

Missing in action

The emissions from the mill can be attributed largely to the electric arc furnace process as a proper secondary emission control system has not yet been installed. R N Choudhury, regional officer of Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB), Jamshedpur, says, "Repeated complaints have been received from residents on air, water and solid waste pollution, which were subsequently communicated to the mill through notices."

A show-cause notice was issued in January 2010 for non-compliance of the board's consent conditions and for not submitting monitoring reports on pollution parameters conducted at JSPCB's authorised, independent laboratories, he adds (see box: ‘Complaints against the mill'). Down To Earth found JSPCB's regional office in Jamshedpur is functioning with skeletal staff and has dysfunctional laboratory. The mill is yet to take proper action in response to the notice.

Vijay Sharma, CEO and head of Usha Martin Jamshedpur mill, says the complaints have been attended to with seriousness. "Our steel melting furnace is more than 25 years old and has seen some short-term process changes leading to increased emissions. We will install high-capacity fume extraction systems by June 2012 for air emission control," he says. With ongoing expansion to a million tonnes steel production annually by 2013, most of the generated solid waste is expected to be reused in the plant while remaining will be disposed of at a distant site in an "environment-friendly" manner, Sharma adds.

False recognition

The mill's 7.5 MW power plant is registered under the United Nation's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) scheme and is issued carbon credits. Clearly, the UN is ignorant of the ground reality. It does not perform basic environmental compliance check, one of the guidelines while issuing the credits. This is at odds with Rio Declararation's Agenda 21 objective to minimise pollution. In a press interview last year when Thomas Davenport, director, South Asia, IFC, was asked to list good investments in India, he cited Usha Martin as a long-term equity investment. IFC continues to hold stake in Usha Martin.

When asked about the pollution, IFC says, "IFC conducts periodic visits to client sites to assess environmental and social practices adopted by our clients. We engage with clients to help achieve stronger environmental and social outcomes. We are similarly engaging with Usha Martin to realise positive environmental and social impacts."


What lies beneath

By Kanchi Kohli

http://www.oneindiaonepeople.com/

February 2012

Well-known Indian environmentalist, Kanchi Koli, casts her eye over India's mining landscape, amidst a raft of recent, and proposed, changes to existing legislation.

When I began writing this article, I was not sure which story to begin with. In front of me were clear visions of a shaved off hill visible from the terrace of the Sarpanch of Kalne village in Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra. With the forests of the Western Ghats on both sides, the barren hill being excavated for iron ore stood witness to a good fight that the people of the village had gone through before the mine was made operational.

My mind then shifted to the Hazaribagh district in Jharkhand where large open cast mines of North Karanpura coalfields somehow symbolised how far and widespread the mining reality in India is. But the words of Deepak Das of Karanpura Bachao Sangarsh Samiti (KBSS) resonated strong will of the people of the area not to let go of their land and livelihoods. "Out of the 37 mining leases of different companies in the area, 19 have expired due to ground mobilisation because of which mining activity could not take place," he said at a time KBSS was preparing for a long march and protest in September 2011 to strengthen their determination.

And then I wandered away to the Niyamgiri Hills spread across Kalahandi and Rayagada districts of Odisha, where the struggle against the proposed bauxite mining by M/s Vedanta (through the Orissa Mining Corporation) has received tremendous international support and attention.

At present no mining is taking place in this land considered sacred to the Dongria Kondh tribal community. This was following political intervention which was likely to have influenced the orders of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). However, the future of Niyamgiri is also being discussed and determined in the halls of the Supreme Court of India, even as I write this.

We don't need statistics to prove that the mining industry in India has been seeking to expand in unexplored horizons for the last two decades, even though there are enough figures that have been put forward by the Department of Mines as indication of their "upward swing" in this sector.

The list of proposed mines that are seeking their environment approval from the MoEF also gives enough reason to believe that more and more forests, agricultural lands, or riverbeds are being sought to be explored for any possible metal or ore that the industrial sector would need.

In a press release of November 23, 2011, the Ministry of Coal has pointed out that meetings have been held with Chief Secretaries of Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh in the month of November 2011 to expedite the pending forestry and environment clearances of the mining projects. This is alongside "vigorous follow up action with land acquisition officials of the State Governments to expedite acquisition proceedings", other than several steps to reduce delays in grant of approvals as indicated in the release.

But none of this without its serious social and environmental ramifications, which is exactly what regulatory procedures like EIA are to check before granting an approval. I refer here to such procedures laid out in Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006 or precautions related to forest land diversion under the Forest Conservation Act (FCA), 1980 which are to be followed before mining activity can take place.

The EIA notification requires any mining activity above 50 hectares to have prior environment clearance based on a detailed EIA report and public hearing which is to be appraised by an Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the MoEF. For mines over 5 hectares and under 50 hectares of lease area, approval has to be sought from a State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) of the respective state where mining is to take place.

In the case of any of these mines where forest land (irrespective of the lease area) is to be used the provisions of the FCA come into being where permissions from the central overnment (i.e. MoEF) is needed before any user agency (government or private) can start mining activity.

Since 2006, what has also stepped into these array of legislations is the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act where rights of tribal and other forest dwelling communities need to be recognised before forest diversion under the FCA can take place. The MoEF also has specific circulars stating this.

But what happens when regulations remain a matter of paperwork and administrative formality. It was not very long ago when the national media carried stories about how the EIA for the Ashapura Minechem Limited's mining project in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra was a direct copy of a Russian EIA report. This had gone unnoticed in the MoEF where the project was approved by the respective EAC.

In another instance, it was a judicial intervention before the National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA) which had sent back the environment clearance granted to Orissa Mining Corporation in April 2009 to mine bauxite in Niyamgiri Hills to supply ore to UK based M/s Vedanta's alumina refinery. The NEAA's order had come a month after the decision on forest clearance, which had rendered the EC inoperable. Regulatory logic would have expected that the environmental approval would not be scrutinised further as these are two parallel but linked processes of the same ministry. But for the EAC, it was a second time "yes" to mining in Niyamgiri, but kept in abeyance by the MoEF.

The stories of such regulatory collapses are many, involving multiple layers of thrilling narration. However there are also intriguing tales of the mine sector negotiation as part of fascinating policy discourses. The foremost amongst these has been the discussions to declare forest areas in the country as "go" or "no-go" areas for coal mining. The conversation around "go" and "no-go" was initiated by the Ministry of Coal and in the MoEF in June 2009 to identify which blocks in India's existing nine coalfields could be allowed to be mined and which others would remain untouched to be used as strategic energy reserves for the future.

The give and take of these areas continued and the number of no-go areas gradually shrunk in the discussions between the two ministries and the Group of Ministers looking into the allocation of coal blocks identified across the country for mining. Following the change of guards at the MoEF in July 2011 from Jairam Ramesh to the current minister, Jayanthi Natarajan, the Ministry has said they are going to not pursue the "go" "no-go" argument but a position that some forest areas must continue to remain "inviolate" for all kinds of activities (not just coal mining). The details of how this will happen are yet to be revealed.

And in amidst all these regulatory and policy tale has arrived the approval of the Draft Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill, 2011 (approved by Cabinet on September, 30, 2011). The bill seeking to replace its 1957 version is the legislation to determine how mining leases are to be applied for and granted in accordance with law. While the provisions of this proposed law requires detailed scrutiny, one significant clause is of crucial bearing.

In its text the draft Bill provides for mining companies to keep aside 26 per cent of their net profits for a Mineral Development Fund to be used for the development and rehabilitation of project-affected people in tribal areas. For the non-coal companies, the amount will be equivalent to the royalty they pay.

My mind reels with many thoughts and I can only remotely fathom what a person who will lose her land, access to livelihoods and food (like in the case of forests) and be served notice to move from a place where generations of her family would be derived their culture and identity from, would think of such a proposal.

How will ecological landscapes be restored through cash paybacks such as those proposed above. But then even with these unanswered thoughts, I also transport myself in Chilika Daad village in Singrauli district of Madhya Pradesh which lives everyday a few metres away from a towering coal mine over-burden.

The village which has been displaced twice and then relocated next to a public sector mine, remains far away from the rehabilitation promises. I reckon this might be just another addition to the long list of unfulfilled promises that a company will brightly plaster on the Panchayat Bhawan bang in the middle of the village?

--

The writer works and writes on environment, forest, and biodiversity governance issues. In her writing, she seeks to explore the interface between industrialisation and its impacts on both local communities and ecosystems.

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