MAC: Mines and Communities

Vedanta at centre of many storms

Published by MAC on 2006-08-05

Vedanta at centre of many storms

5th August 2006

It's said that a picture is worth a thousand words. If true, seven photographs circulated to shareholders at Vedanta Resources' third annual general meeting, held in London last week, were worth a volume of stinging criticism.

They conclusively backed "dissident" shareholders' claims that the company has flagrantly violated several key orders imposed by committees of India's Supreme Court. Vedanta has failed to reduce vast waste piles at its Tuticorin copper smelter in Tamil Nadu (and indeed actually increased their height). It's illegally starting site clearance and construction for its aluminium smelter/power complex in Orissa. At its massively-oppposed Lanjiargh alumina refinery in the same state, it's positioning toxic "red mud" ponds right on the banks of the region's most important river. And its been employing contract labour in demeaning conditions, for more than a year, at a bauxite mine in the state of Chhattisgarh.

For the first time in its two and a half year history as a London-listed company, Anil Agarwal's 54%-owned outfit faced the ire of Indians at its annual meeting. Despite banning the press from attending (an act amost unprecedented for a major UK-listed public company) their outrage was registered by some of the British press.

Meanwhile, back in his country of birth, Agarwal is facing further accusations of corruption - not just with Orissa's chief minister, but also the central government's finance minister, P Chidambaram.

Location of the proposed Red Mud Pond and Ash Pond of 1 MTPA
Alumina Refinery near Lanjigarh Bauxite Deposit Kalahandi, Orissa

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