MAC: Mines and Communities

ALCAN quietly increases share in controversial project in India while leaked Government report Gives

Published by MAC on 2003-10-28

ALCAN quietly increases share in controversial project in India while leaked Government report Gives project green light.

Press release

October 28 2003

On July 3rd 2003, ALCAN increased its share in the Utkal Alumina Intl. Ltd. (U.A.I.L.) mine and refinery project in Kashipur, Orissa, India from 35% to 45% of the company equity. ALCAN did not officially announce the increase by nearly 30% of it’s share which came despite ALCAN’s continual claims that it is waiting for the results of state government appointed judicial inquiry before it took any decision.

The inquiry panel (under Justice Mishra) was set up to investigate the killings of three tribal anti–mining activists on December 16th 2000. Following the killings, the lead partner in U.A.I.L., Norsk Hydro withdrew its shares. While the widespread local opposition to the project continues, ALCAN has increased its stake.

The inquiry panel results, recently leaked to the Orissa local pre ss, state that the police may have used excessive force but the order to open fire was justified. The panel further concludes that the government should help the stalled project move forward with a few minor changes.

In the wake of this release the elected leaders of the five village councils which cover all 24 of the officially “affected” villages made statements reiterating their populations opposition to the project. Ghassan Jhodia the elected leader representing 8 of the 24 villages stated: “Today I too stand in total opposition to the company.””

The people are preparing for another confrontation as the Government announced its plan to present the report in the next assembly session beginning in November following which construction could begin immediately. Despite signing an agreement with the government in 1994, currently U.A.I.L. has no presence in the Kashipur area as local people consistently opposed the mine and prevented a ny construction.

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Contact: Angad Bhalla

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