MAC: Mines and Communities

India Update

Published by MAC on 2006-08-23
Source: Mines and Communities

India Update

23rd August 2006

It's now confirmed that the respected Wildlife Institute of India (WII) - commissioned to deliver a report to the Supreme Court's Central Empowered Committee (CEC) - has con- demned the joint proposal, by Vedanta Resources and the Orissa Mining Corporation, to mine bauxite from the Nyamgiri Hills in order to feed its Lanjigarh alumina refinery.

The WII's conclusions will be welcomed, not only by environmentalists but supporters of rights for India's "first peoples". It won't be appreciated by Vedanta which expressed con- fidence earlier this year that its refinery would have come on stream before now. The com- pany's executive chair, Anil Agarwal, has also had to suffer the the Indian government 's recent rejection of his bid to take over the state's holding in his primary bauxite-aluminium producer, Balco.

This closely follows the publication of a book by Rohit Poddar, entitled "Vedanta's Billions" which delivers an excoriating attack on Mr Agarwal 's alleged corruption, and calls on India's finance minister, P D Chidamaram (a former director of Vedanta) , to sever his relationship with the London-based super-capitalist.

Although a couple of swallows don't make a summer, a new government report has raised questions about India's breakneck pace of industrialisation, and its impact on land resources. The leader of the Community Party of India (Marxist) has called for a new national minerals' policy, to preserve jobs and build up the country's infrastructure, rather than mortgage res- ources to overseas buyers.

The famous Samata judgment of 1997 (asserting the rights of tribal communities to prevent private exploitation of their territory) was evoked a week ago when the eponymous support NGO (and MAC editorial member) rushed to the support of villagers - many of them women - trying to stop quarrying for construction materials in Andhra Pradesh.

Over the past month, several Indian companies have announced new ventures overseas. Jindal Strips is foraging into South Korea, Turkey, Italy and eastern Europe. It's also grabbed a huge stake in Mozambique coal.

Meanwhile, claims that India is playing a leading role in promoting "clean coal" technology may be taken with a least a pinch of salt...

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