India UpdatePublished by MAC on 2006-02-25
25th February 2006
This week's main focus is on the Indigenous state of Chhattisgarh, where Tata is once more facing strong criticism for trying to establish a steel plant, while a US company is also planning for a power plant, coal "washery" and sponge iron smelter.
For several months, so-called "Naxalites" (claimed to be adherents of the Communist Party of India Marxist-Leninist) have made various attacks on police and others associated with the administration in, at least nominal, defence of the poor. Under the pretext of fighting "terrorism, human rights are being rapidly curtailed in the state ,especially in the iron-rich tribal area of Baster. Three members of the ruling party itself last week accused the government of failing to control pollution from the current rash of sponge iron and other industries.
The notorious UK-based company, Vedanta - whose current aluminium operations are based in Chhattisgarh - has just announced it's adding another one billion dollars to its Indian budget. This is aimed at increasing output of copper, zinc and lead, as well as more than doubling its aluminium production.
Last week, it emerged that Vedanta has "persuaded" India's Supreme Court to postpone judgement on its Lanjigarh refinery until July - precisely when the plant is due to come on-stream, and despite a Supreme Court sub-committee report last September which damned the project.
Our KALINGA NAGAR UPDATE (below) publishes last week's comprehensive report by a leading Indian human rights organisation on the January massacre, with news that the tribal community blockade against the site is still holding.