ALCAN Commits to Releasing Documents Regarding Controversial Indian ProjectPublished by MAC on 2004-04-22
ALCAN Commits to Releasing Documents Regarding Controversial Indian Project
Press release from Alcan't in India
Montreal- April 22 2004
As ALCAN share holders convened in Montreal for the company's annual general meeting, approximately 80 concerned community members assembled outside to voice their concerns regarding ALCAN's 45% investment in the controversial Utkal Alumina International Ltd. (UAIL) project to be established in the Kashipur region of Orissa, India.
Chanting and singing to the beat of drums, the protesters called for ALCAN to re-assess their involvement in this project which has faced fierce opposition from local people in Orissa for the last 12 years. More importantly they called for ALCAN to release documents to support its claims that the project is environmentally sound, including the official Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as well as evidence indicating that affected villages in the area now support the project.
Independent journalist Frederic Dubois and Abhimanyu Sud, coordinator of an umbrella group for concerned citizens in the project called "Alcan't In India", who are both ALCAN shareholders, brought three demands to the ALCAN management and investors inside the meeting. They reiterated the demands that both the EIA and evidence of peoples' support be released by a specific date as well as demanding that a Joint Commission of the relevant ALCAN officials, independent journalists and concerned community members be established to determine and verify the position of the local people already affected by the project.
Because of Dubois and Sud's interventions at the meeting, the two were invited to meet with ALCAN's chief executive for Bauxite and Alumina Michael Hanley to further discuss their issues surrounding the UAIL project. Angad Bhalla, an independent filmmaker who has travelled extensively in the affected areas, was also present. In the course of the meeting, Hanley committed to providing Sud and Dubois with the requested documents and committed to giving them a specific date for their delivery by the next week. Hanley also stated that Alcan has still not decided whether or not to further develop this long-stalled project.
After meeting with Hanley, Sud remarked "while we are glad that Alcan has finally decided to release the documents, their stated indecision regarding the project's future is unacceptable given that the livelihoods of many local people remain in limbo. We are still committed to conveying at large the documented opposition of local people to the proposed alumina project."