MAC/20: Mines and Communities

South Asia update

Published by MAC on 2007-07-03


South Asia update

3rd July 2007

Further to last week's posting on Jindal's controversial proposal to mine and refine bauxite from Indigenous Peoples' land in eastern Andhra Pradesh, there have been further resolutions passed against the development, notably refusing the necessary water for processing.

Also the Madras High Court has formed an experts' committee to assess the health condition of former workers who appear to be suffering from exposure to mercury.


GVMC refuses water to Jindal alumina refinery

Our Bureau, Hindu Business Line - http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2007/07/04/stories/2007070452472100.htm

3rd July 2007

Visakhapatnam, The Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) council at its council meeting here on Tuesday passed a resolution refusing to part with 8 mgd (million gallons a day) of water to the proposed alumina refinery by the Jindal group in the S.Kota mandal of Vizianagaram district.

It remains to be seen how and from where the State Government will provide water to the proposed refinery by the Jindals, which is mired in controversy, as all the political parties except the Congress, and the citizens' groups and voluntary organisations such as Samata are opposing bauxite mining in the Visakhapatnam district and the proposed refinery of the Jindal group. Noisy scenes and heated arguments were witnessed at the general body meeting of the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation on Tuesday, as the opposition parties, and even some Congress corporators, raised the issue of allocating 8 mgd of water to the Jindal refinery. Mr M.V.S Sarma, of the CPM, and several others questioned how the corporation officials and the State Government could unilaterally decide to allocate water to the Jindal refinery when there was a huge demand-supply gap in the GVMC limits and the corporation was not in a position to bridge it.

He said, "The scheme to divert 5 tmc ft of Godavari waters was taken up during the Telugu Desam regime and it had then been decided to give half of the water to the industries such as the Steel plant, the NTPC Simhadri power plant and others and the remaining half was given to the GVMC to meet the drinking water needs of its citizens. When there is no surplus with the GVMC, how can water be allocated to the refinery without the consent of the council?"

He said the GVMC was having 51 per cent stake and the remaining by Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation in the Visakhapatnam Industrial Water Supply Company.


Opposition to bauxite mining mounts

Special Correspondent, http://www.hindu. com/2007/ 06/29/stories/ 2007062958440300 .htm

29th June 2007

State Government criticised for 'disregarding' the feelings of stakeholders, including Girijans

VISAKHAPATNAM: Barring the Congress, the strong resolve of the political parties, environmental groups and people's organisations against exploitation of bauxite in the agency area and setting up of alumina smelter plants was once again exhibited at a seminar conducted here on Thursday.

The Bauxite Vyatireka, Nadee Jalaala Parirakshana Udyama Committee (an anti-bauxite and river water protection struggle committee) conducted the seminar and the participants took strong exception to the Government's action to force bauxite mining and refineries on the people even though the Girijans, farmers and people of plain areas had vehemently expressed their opposition due to the adverse affects of the two on the environment, life style of Girijans, depletion of water sources, etc.

Public hearing

They were particularly sore that the Government was not in a mood to understand the people's feeling in spite of 97 per cent of the participants at a public hearing on Jindal company's proposed alumina refinery in S. Kota Mandal saying an emphatic "no".

After the committee convener and Chodavaram MLA of Telugu Desam Ganta Srinivasa Rao made an introductory speech in which he criticised the Government and its double talk on the issue and asserted that the agitation would continue till the Government dropped its plans, executive director of Samata organisation Ravi Rebbapragada and a senior journalist and convener of Mines, Minerals and People organisation at New Delhi R. Sridhar gave power point presentations on the damage the bauxite mining and alumina refineries would cause. Mr. Ravi explained how the rivers in north coastal Andhra would dry up due to mining in the Visakha agency area and also in the Orissa area, where already an agitation was on for the last 10 years.

Dr. Sridhar said the corporates would only benefit due to mining and refineries while people would suffer extensively.

He explained how much water was needed for mining and for running the refineries while people were not supplied sufficient water even now. President of Lok Satta Abiyan from Orissa, Prafulla Samantray who is actively involved in the agitations in his State, wanted the Government to protect resources to protect people and also maintain ecological balance. The Governments would get very little benefit from the bauxite mining, he said.

Gram Sabhas

Leader of TDP Parliamentary Party K. Yerran Naidu said the Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy was violating the Constitution and Acts and behaving in an undemocratic manner by brushing aside the people's opinion. As the Minister for Rural Development in the past, it was he who included Scheduled Areas in the amended Panchayati Raj Act which stated that what was decided by Gram Sabhas could not be ignored, Mr. Yerran Naidu said. North Andhra people would not keep quite in the face of great danger facing them and the TDP would raise the bauxite mining and refineries issue in the Parliament, he said. State secretary of Human Rights Forum V.S. Krishna pointed out that the Girijans and farmers were now asking the Government to define development, which was a good development. He wanted the agitation to be made strong at the ground level.

MLA of Chintapalli G. Demudu of CPI listed several violations made by the Government and asserted that the Girijans would not allow bauxite mining. Yellavaram MLA from East Godavari Babu Ramesh wanted greater awareness about the ill effects of mining and refineries be created among the people.

Secretary of Vizag Journalists Forum M. Yugandhar Reddy said the Government was harassing people in the name of development. TDP district president and former Minister Bandaru Satyanarayana Murthy and others were present.


'Bauxite mining threat to health'

Deccan Chronical Daily – http://www.deccan. com/Region/ RegionNews. asp#%E2%80% 98Bauxite% 20mining% 20threat% 20to%20health% E2%80%99

28th June 2007

Visakhapatnam, June 28: The Anti-bauxite and Save River Waters committee formed to fight against the mining held a workshop here on Thursday depicting the ill effects of mining. "Health of the hills is wealth of the plains," was the slogan of the power point presentation at the all-party and intellectuals workshop.

Repercussions of mining on Eastern Ghats that resulted in spread of various diseases like psoriasis, inflammation of skin in Kalinganagar of Orissa was shown in the power point presentation. Speaking on the occasion, Chodavaram TD MLA and all-party committee convenor Ganta Srinivasa Rao said that the mining will have drastic impact not only upon the tribals living in the Agency areas but also people living in plain areas.

He called upon scientists, experts, and intellectuals to take up the cause and join them in fighting the State government against it. The speakers at the workshop said that natural water and springs in the Eastern Ghats would get contaminated and it would cause various health hazards.

He also asked all the political parties to join them to oppose bauxite mining. TD leaders B Satyanarayana Murthy, Dr C.M.A. Zaheer Ahmed, Sobha Hymavathi, J. Prithviraj of BJP, J.V. Satynarayana Murthy of CPI, and S. Raju of CPM took part. Environmental scientists from Berhampur Dr Sridhar and Dr Raghava Rao also spoke.


Mercury exposure: panel to probe health condition of former factory workers

1st July 2007

Special Correspondent, The Hindu Daily - http://www.hindu.com/2007/07/01/stories/2007070154880400.htm

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has formed an experts' committee to assess the health condition of former workers of Hindustan Lever's Clinical Thermometer Factory at Kodaikanal allegedly exposed to toxic mercury.

The First Bench, comprising Chief Justice A.P. Shah and Justice K. Chandru, said the five-member committee would report to the court as to whether the symptoms shown by the workers and their family members were linked to mercury exposure.

The matter relates to problems such as asthma, hypertension, nervous, cardiac and renal problems faced by the workers of the factory established in Kodaikanal in 1983. While obtaining permission, the management was granted special exemption by the State Government since it had been declared a non-polluting venture. Hindustan Lever Limited acquired the factory from Ponds in 1997.

The petitioner-association submitted that about 1,200 workers, including casual and contract staff, trainees and temporary labour were not told about the hazardous nature of mercury or provided with proper safety gear. R. Vaigai, counsel for the petitioners, said the management deliberately suppressed information about the toxic effect of mercury.

The workers continued to be exposed to the risk till the factory was shut down in 2001. Till then, 165 million thermometers were produced. Most of the workers were rendered unfit for any other employment due to mercury-induced ailments. The factory had a "catastrophic" effect on the environment as well, with the nearby forests and a water source being polluted, the petitioner said.

The petitioner-association sought an interim direction to the company to deposit Rs. 10 crore to commission a healthcare facility for the affected workers. It also demanded an economic rehabilitation and health scheme for the former workers and prosecution of the guilty.

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