South Asia updatePublished by MAC on 2007-06-28
South Asia update
28th June 2007
Around the world, cross-border mining and minerals ventures are few and far between (the huge Pascua Lama project, straddling the Chile and Argentina frontier, is one rare example.) Where they do occur, such schemes are almost certain to incite vigorous opposition from one side or the other - or from both, as demonstrated by a recent historic meeting between Mexican and US mayors, seeking to restrain Asarco.
In May, the state government of Meghalaya, India, imposed a ban on the mining and transport of limestone from forest areas to a cement factory in Bangladesh operated by LaFarge. Now, the country's Supreme Court has asked the government to "show cause" why the supply should not be resumed.
Criticisms of Jindal's proposal, to mine and refine bauxite from Indigenous Peoples' hill ranges in eastern Andhra Pradesh, last week became even more vehement.
Agitation intensified against bauxite mining, alumina units
Special Correspondent, The Hindu
28th June 2007
* 'State not in mood to understand people's feelings'* YSR accused of behaving in undemocratic way
* Telugu Desam Party to raise the issue in Parliament
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.
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 Delh, R. Sridhar, gave power point presentations on the damage the bauxite mining and alumina refineries would cause.
Rivers to be affected
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.
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 quiet 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. IMA State president L.V. Raghava Rao, Lok Satta coordinator Krishnam Raju, BJP National committee member M. Nagendra, K. Padma of Mahila Chetana, CPI (M) leader A. Balakrishna, CPI district secretary J.V. Satyanaryana Murthy, BJP leader J. Prudhviraj, TDP Vizianagaram district president Yedla Ramanamurthy, and others spoke.
TDP district president and former Minister Bandaru Satyanarayana Murthy, city president Zaheer Ahmed, party leader Sobha Hymavathi, Lanka Mohana Rao of Child Labour Foundation and others were present.
Shot in arm for Jindal promoters industry dossier
Santosh Patnaik, Deccan Chronicle
29th June 2007
* By allotting land, the State has brushed aside public opposition to the project
VISAKHAPATNAM: By allotting 1,086 acres and approving the compensation package for the project-affected people last week, the State Government wants to brush aside opposition to the 1.4 million tonnes per annum alumina refinery proposed by the Jindal South West Aluminium Limited.
Having mentioned that "water demand for various activities during the construction stage will be satisfied from the Raiwada reservoir located 25 km from the plant site through a pipeline" in the Rapid Environment Impact Assessment, the JSW, which is setting up the refinery at Boddavara near S. Kota at a cost of Rs. 5,000 crores, is at the receiving end following criticism from various quarters.
The Cabinet decision has come at a time when the morale of the refinery management is at low ebb. It received a big blow when an overwhelming majority who attended the public hearing held at Kiltampalem on June 4 opposed the project.
Vizianagaram Joint Collector M. Jaganmohan stated in the minutes that out of 40 persons who spoke at the public hearing, except four, all others opposed the project.
The all-party committee had taken strong exception to the claim of the JSW that they had arrived at an understanding with the GVMC for supply of 8 mgd from the Godavari water project. Even as the JSW tried to lure the project-affected to give their consent with the offer of equity participation, which is equivalent to the cash compensation to be paid to them, several corporators opposed the supply of Godavari water without the consent of GVMC council.
Row over water supply
"The Godavari water reaching the city is not enough to meet domestic requirement. How can the government sell it when there is no clearance for mining bauxite from Anantagiri hill range," asked CPI (M) district secretary Ch. Narsinga Rao.
Stoppage of limestone supply to Lafarge Surma Indian SC issues showcause notice on central, Meghalaya governments
Financial Express (India)
20th June 2007The Supreme Court of India Monday issued a notice to the Meghalaya government and the central government to show cause why the Lafarge Surma Cement cannot transport lime stones for its project in Bangladesh, but did not put a stay on the current ban, according an Indian newspaper report.
"The case will now come up for hearing only in the next months since the court has gone for summer vacation. The court is reopening only after July 9," the Shillong Times quoted senior advocate Ranjan Mukharjee, who appeared on behalf of Meghalaya government in the case, as saying.
The cement giant Lafarge had moved the apex court against the order of the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), India virtually putting an end to supply of raw material to its US$255-million plant in Bangladesh.
The Lafarge Surma Cement project at Chhatak, Sunamganj, in Bangladesh is wholly dependent on limestone extracted from East Khasi Hills.
The Environment Ministry of India has ordered stoppage of work at the quarries on the ground that mining is not permitted in forest areas. The limestone is transported from Meghalaya to Bangladesh through a 17km-long conveyor belt.
The advocate of the French multinational, argued that the reversal of stand by MoEF, would render the plant inoperational. The ministry had given no objection for mining and transportation of limestone earlier.
Arguing before the Supreme Court, the petitioner's advocate said that work at the quarries has been stopped on the orders of MoEF, but around 6,00,000 tonnes of already extracted limestone is lying at the quarry sites and requested that this be permitted to be transported through the conveyor belt to the plant to keep it running.
The Court, refused to pass any interim orders and posted the matter for detailed hearing after vacation.
The world leader in building materials, Lafarge of France and renowned Spanish cement producer Cementos Molins set up the state-of-the-art fully integrated cement plant at Chhatak, with a captive power plant of 30 MW capacity. In 2001, the Bangladesh High Commissioner and the then Indian foreign secretary, Lalit Mansingh, had signed an agreement for uninterrupted supply of raw material for the plant.
After this agreement, relevant clearances from the MoEF, the Meghalaya government, the District council and the chief conservator of forest were obtained for the extraction of in East Khasi Hills, the petitioner said.
However, last month, MoEF suddenly turned around and asked for stoppage of work in the quarrying area on the ground that limestone extraction is prohibited in a forest area.
Lafarge has moved an application under Section 2 of the Forest Protection Act seeking permission for non-forest activity in the forest area. In the meantime, the company wants that the already extracted limestone to be allowed to be transported to its plant in Bangladesh which was not allowed by the apex court.