MAC: Mines and Communities

Vedanta's Orissa prospects threatened with the boot

Published by MAC on 2004-11-03

Vedanta's Orissa prospects threatened with the boot

Last week an opposition (Congress) member of the Orissa state assembly threw his sandals into the public gallery and the Chief Minister was slightly injured in the ensuring brawl. It indicated belated legislative recognition that the British mining company, Vedanta, poses a clear and present danger to people in the state.

The pro-mining Orissa state government, hand in hand with Vedanta/Sterlite from the start (there are accusations of kick-backs), has been forced to admit it doesn't yet have forest or environment clearances for the Lanjigarh mine to proceed. This is despite the fact that work on the refinery started last year, and families have already been thrown off their land

Last month, too, the state-owned Orissa Mining Company confirmed a 1997 deal to allow Vedanta to mine at Karlapat, a bauxite mountain near Lanjgarh - opening the appalling prospect of a huge complex crossing hundreds of square kilometres of forested, Indigenous Peoples' territory.

Opposition seeks CBI probe into mining deal

Hindustan Times

November 3, 2004

Bhubaneswar: Members of the Opposition demanded a CBI probe into the agreement signed between Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) and Vedanta Alumina Limited (VAL) for the establishment of an alumina plant at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district in the Assembly on Tuesday.

Alleging that the agreement will affect the interests of the State adversely, Congress members said during the Question Hour that the Government has decided to hand over bauxite mines at Karlapat to VAL on a platter without floating a global tender, and demanded that the agreement with the company be scrapped.

Congress members Umesh Chandra Swain, Dhanurjay Sidhu and Sitakanta Mahapatra asked whether the government proposed to hand over the state's mining resources to private industries. Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mahapatra, Nalini Kanta Mahanty, Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mahapatra and Taraprasad Bahinipati (all Cong) alleged that OMC has no say in the proposed project. They sought to know whether the State will be benefited in any manner from this agreement.

Replying to the question, Steel and Mines Minister Padmanabha Behera said, as per the agreement OMC would hold 26 percent share in the joint venture while raising of bauxite would be done by the company. Work on the project had progressed for which the government decided to take steps to provide raw material to the company, he said adding the company would require 150 million tonnes for its alumina refinery.

Admitting that the project is yet to get forest and environment clearances from the Centre, Behera said that only test mining has started. No mining activity will be permitted till the company gets the required clearances, he added.

Orissa CM injured in Assembly fracas

November 3, 2004

The Times of India

Bhubaneswar: The Orissa Assembly on Tuesday witnessed bedlam and scuffle between the treasury bench and opposition members in which Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik suffered a minor injury.

A Congress MLA was suspended for the rest of the session for hurling his chappals into the visitors' gallery.

Opposition Congress members rushed into the well during the question hour expressing dissatisfaction over the reply to a query on the agreement signed between a private company and the state-run Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) for bauxite mining in Kalahandi district.

As they raised slogans against the government and the Chief Minister over the bauxite deal, Congress member Anup Sai hurled his chappals into the visitors' gallery wherein the security personnel were asking cameramen of several TV channels to pack up.

The TV channels were telecasting the question hour live.

This sparked a free-for-all as scuffles ensued between opposition and ruling coalition members, some of whom moved towards the Chief Minister's chair and toppled the desk.

Patnaik's left foot got trapped under the furniture and he was seen in pain, other members rushed to his aid.

After his foot was extricated from under the desk, he was helped out of the house and taken to the nearby chamber of Panchayatraj Minister Damodar Rout where a doctor examined him.

Patnaik was later rushed to the Capital Hospital in Bhubaneswar for a precautionary X-ray.

Speaker Maheswar Mohanty later informed the house the Chief Minister had not suffered any fracture but there was a sprain. The foot was bandaged and he had been advised rest.

Congress alleges kickback in alumina plant deal

October 27 2004

Bhubaneswar: Congress MLA Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mahapatra alleged on Tuesday that there was a kickback in the deal between the State Government and the Vedanta Alumina Limited, a subsidiary of the Sterlite Industries for the establishment of an alumina plant at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district.

He even demanded a judicial inquiry. Mahapatra told newspersons that though the agreement between Orissa Mining Corporation and Vedanta Alumina was signed only 15 days back, the company had started construction work at the site six months ago.

There was a tacit understanding between Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and the company before Assembly polls, he added.

Mahapatra pointed out that the company has not obtained forest and environment clearance for the project though a part of it will be on forestland.

Alleging that the Government has thus violated the Forest Act and guidelines of the Supreme Court, he further said the Karlapat bauxite mines on which the alumina project depends falls within the wildlife sanctuary.

The Congress will raise the issue in the winter session of the Assembly starting November 1, he said. Patnaik, however, brushed aside these allegations as ''false and baseless''.

Asserting that all projects will be implemented as per law, Patnaik advised the Opposition Congress leaders to be more progressive and less negative about industrialisation of the State. He said that the proposed project of Vedanta would offer a large number of direct and indirect employment.

Vedanta Alumina gets mining rights for Lanjigarh project

Bhubaneswar By Prakash Rao & Dhirendra Mishra

October 10, 2004

The Orissa Government cleared mining rights to Vedanta Alumina for its integrated aluminum plant in Lanjigarh of Kalahandi district. On October 5th, the Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) entered into mining lease agreement with Vedanta for the Lanjigarh and the Karlapat (in Rayagada district) bauxite mines.

The One million tonne capacity alumina plant will come up in the next three years. The project is promoted by the Sterlite Group. The agreement has, effectively, cleared the path for expediting the project work.

The agreement between OMC and Vedanta is emphatic on hastening of leasing affair and supply of rich and adequate quantity of Bauxite ore to Vedanta. It has also made provisions to procure other qualitatively superior mines containing more than 25 million tonnes of ore in case the Karlapat mine exploration does not materialize.

Karlapat has been identified as one of the largest deposits of rich Bauxite ores, which alumina majors such as Indal in Hirakud, Nalco in Damanjodi and the proposed Utkal Alumina in Rayagada have been lobbying for.

It is worth mentioning that earlier, Sterlite had entered into a MoU with the Orissa Government for another aluminum plant at Jharsuguda for which, too, the recent agreement has got mining provisions. This plant has also been shown to become operational in three years time.

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