MAC: Mines and Communities

India Update

Published by MAC on 2006-05-11

India Update

11th May 2006

The hubris of Tata is breathtaking. This is India's biggest private corporation and its most "globalised." In recent months, Ratan Tata has been elected to Chancellor Gordon Brown's innermost economic strategy committee in the UK, while the managing director of Tata Steel was invited by Kofi Annan onto the UN's Global Compact advisory board.

Tata Steel is owner of the Kalinganagar steel plant site in Orissa where twelve tribal persons were shot dead by police in January (another two have since died). And Tata is still falsely accusing "outsiders" of "taking advantage" of a desperate situation which was at least partly of the company's own making.

Now Posco, the world's third biggest steel producer - also greedy for India's cheap iron ore and even cheaper labour - has followed Tata's lead in making promises its not likely to keep.

Earlier this month allegations leaked out of Chhattisgarh state that the ash pond at NTPC's Korba thermal power plant had burst its bounds, drowning thirty or more people. We're still trying to get confirmation of this. Meanwhile, NTPC has cut back on its own captive coal mine plans.

India has been scouting the US looking for partners in the establishment of seven "ultra mega" (sic) coal-fired power plants. According to SiliconIndia (which describes itself as the "Business and Technology portal for the global Indian") GE (General Electric) and Caterpillar have expressed interest.

Tata Steel to start work on 6-million-tonne Orissa plant

Express News Service

11th May 2006

Project ran into controversy after police shot dead nine tribals in January

MUMBAI, MAY 10: India's largest private sector steel firm Tata Steel said it will start construction of its Orissa plant in two months as it finished acquiring land from the government.

The project had run into controversy after police shot dead nine tribals in January after a protest against land acquisition for the project turned violent in Jajpur, some 100 km north of Bhubaneswar, Orissa’s capital.

‘‘The locals are not protesting the projects. It’s the outside elements. We are taking care of all these 700 families and will see to it that their standards of living get better in the coming years with higher income generation,’’ the MD of Tata Steel B. Muthuraman said.

The acquisition of 3,000 acres land for Rs 15,000 crore project cost the company around Rs 60-70 crore and the steel major is in the process of rehabilitating the 700 displaced families — named Tata Steel Parivar.

The rehab programme, Muthuraman said will be the best in the country with Tata Steel monitoring the progress of these families month-by-month. ‘‘The government has announced a rehabilitation policy and enhanced compensation several times. We are working on strategies to ensure them a better livelihood,’’ Muthuraman added.

With the beginning of construction, the company is on track to commission the first phase of its 6-million-tonne plant by 2009.

Apart from Orissa, Tata Steel is also setting up greenfield plants in Jharkhand and in Bastar, Chhattisgarh costing Rs 40,000 crore and Rs 12,000 crore, respectively. The 5-million-tonne Chhattisgarh plant is expected to be commissioned by 2010 while 12-million-tonne Jharkhand project will be ready by 2011.

On the law and order problems due to agitation by Maoists, Muthuraman said the genesis of these problems are due to lack of any income generation programmes. ‘‘Even these people realise that the project will help the development of region. We never had any problems with them in any of our plants,’’ he said. The company would fund the new projects and expansion of its Jamshedpur project through internal accrual and borrowing. ‘‘We have enough cash flow and have a borrowing plan in place. There are no plans for a rights issue,’’ he said.On Wednesday, Tata Steel shares ended 1.2 per cent higher at Rs 667.85.

Tata Steel projects `on schedule'

The Hindu

11th May 2006

`We are in a position to solve problems regarding displacement of tribal people'

MUMBAI: The massive expansion programme of Tata Steel through greenfield projects across three locations, which will see the company add 23 million tonnes capacity over the next few years, is progressing as per schedule and the company does not foresee any problems.

Addressing the media here on Wednesday, B. Muthuraman, Managing Director, Tata Steel, sought to put to rest any speculation regarding the projects schedule being affected adversely. The three projects would cost about Rs. 67,500 crore and would be funded through debt and internal accruals. He ruled out a rights issue to finance the projects.

The projects in Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh will displace around 700 families in each State. While the Jharkhand project will cover around 5,000 acres, Orissa and Chhattisgarh projects will cover around 3,000 acres each.

Earlier, issues had been raised regarding displacement of tribal people particularly in Kalinganagar, Orissa, where police firing led to some fatalities a few months ago. "Typically, large projects covering large tracts of land acquisitions always pose challenges in India. We are tackling the issues and are in a good position to solve all the problems.

"It is important for us to rehabilitate and resettle all those who are affected. The people of the area are, in fact, welcoming the project. They are aware that they will get employment, training and the plant will see the setting up of several ancillary industries.

"The main issue is of some other people trying to take advantage of the situation,'' the Tata Steel MD said.

Posco reaches out to people

Statesman News Service, PARADIP

10th May 2006

South Korean steel major Posco today sought to allay fears over several issues, including apprehensions over the future of Paradip Port Trust and the environment, while firmly committing itself to the welfare of local people by implementing the rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) policy.

In a significant step, Posco officials headed by the company's India chief, Mr Soung Sik Cho, interacted with the media for the first time and also spoke to a few local people. The importance of today's move by the South Korean company can be judged from the fact that it had stayed away from Paradip and villages nearby till date due to the vitiated atmosphere after controversies and protests.

Breaking the ice, through a well-planned public relations exercise, Posco officials took questions from the local media here and explained the company's plans. "We want to make Orissa the industrial hub of the country and 98 per cent of the workforce in the plant will comprise locals," Mr Soung said. He also said the company would invest on a railway line connecting the port.

Thousands of people will be directly employed, he said, adding that at least 48,000 jobs will be created.

He was confident of meeting time schedules as far as completion of the first phase by 2010 was concerned.

With regard to the vexed problem of displacement, he referred to Posco's track record in safeguarding the interest of the displaced people. Both at Pohang and Gawangyang plants in South Korea, the oustees have been rehabilitated and resettled to the satisfaction of all concerned, he claimed.

Faced with a barrage of questions on the proposed, dedicated port at the Jatadhari estuary and its impact on both Paradip Port and the environment, Mr Soung said the proposed port would not hamper the business interests of Paradip Port Trust.

A scientific and technical study is being done by three independent agencies to ensure that the proposed captive port at the Jatadhari does not harm the wetlands of this coastal region and its environment, he added.

The water requirement for the mega plant will be drawn from Jobra barrage of the Mahanadi river and there will be little effect on the irrigation points and water bodies of Taladanda canal as was being apprehended by some people. There is no cause of worry for fishermen as the plant would hardly draw 0. 07 per cent of the water resource available from Jobra barrage, Mr Soung said.

The government had demarcated the land needed for Posco to start the project and the land acquisition process is likely to be completed soon, he said.

Environment impact assessments have started and reputed institutes such as the National Institute of Oceanography, Consultancy of Engineering Services of India and Danish Hydrocolic Institute of Denmark are working on it.

With fear of displacement haunting them, residents of Dhinkia today held a meeting to coincide with Mr Soung visit to Paradip. The anti-Posco leaders raised slogans against the proposed plant with trade union activists Mr Mayadhar Nayak and Mr Abhaya Sahu exhorting the audience not to give an inch of their land for the project.

The often-raised slogan at a meeting place such as this is: "Amara pana, mina, dhana amathu kei chadhai paribe nahin (No one can snatch our betel, paddy and fishing-induced economy"). They rejected the RR policy initiatives announced by the state government.

Ash tank mishap case

The Telegraph, Raipur, May 4: Korba police today registered a case against the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and a construction company in connection with the collapse of an ash tank yesterday.

The administration, however, denied reports that over two-dozen people went missing after slush from the tank spread to the adjoining areas. “The administration has received information of only one person missing. We cannot support the villagers’ claim unless we get some concrete information,” Korba superintendent of police Himanshu Gupta said.

A case has been lodged against the NTPC management and Bihar Construction, a company involved in the project, under Sections 337 and 269 of the Indian Penal Code, said Gupta.

Commercial coal mining still a distant dream for NTPC


12th May 2006

NEW DELHI, MAY 11: State-owned power producer National Thermal Power Corporation’s (Ntpc) plans to start coal mining activity on a commercial basis may get delayed further. The power major has decided to use coal produced from all the seven blocks allocated to it for captive consumption to meet the growing requirement arising out of capacity additions.

The coal ministry had allocated seven coal blocks to the power utility earlier this year under government company dispensation to mine coal for captive as well as commercial use.

Ntpc sources said that though the company had earlier decided to use two out of seven blocks for commercial mining (to produce and sell coal in the open market), fresh assessment for captive requirements has prevented the plan from becoming operational.

The power utility is now planning to first begin mining from the existing blocks before presenting a fresh request to coal ministry to grant mines for commercial purpose.

Out of the seven coal blocks being allotted to Ntpc, three are located in North Karanpura, Jharkhand, one each in Singrauli (UP) and Raigarh in Chhattisgarh. For one of the blocks, Ntpc has already entered into a joint venture agreement with Coal India Limited (CIL) for mining activity. Sources however confirmed, the company may forge similar alliance with either a public or a private mining company for mining in other coal blocks.

“The annual production from these coal blocks is estimated to be 45 million tonnes. This could support generation of 10000 mw of power annually,” said an Ntpc official. According to sources, Ntpc is also learnt to have kicked off environmental impact studies for the captive coal blocks. Mine plan has also devised for one of the blocks.

Coal ministry sources said that Ntpc has been allocated coal blocks under government company dispensation where a PSU is permitted to mine coal previously reserved for Coal India Limited. At present, coal requirement of all the central power generating units is being met by Cil.

The government has decided to reserve a few of the Cil coal blocks to enhance production and bridge the demand-supply gap.

As per a study conducted by the Planning Commission, CIL would not be using many of the coal blocks reserved for it till the end of eleventh plan period. It is these blocks, the government now plans to deserve in favour of private and public sector companies for faster development of blocks.

US giants "interested" in Indian coal


27th April 2006

WASHINGTON: Several US power companies such as GE and Caterpillar have evinced interest in investing in ultra-mega power projects, which India plans to build in the coming years.

In his presentation at the Indian Embassy here after completing the Washington DC part of a multi-city Road Show in the United States and Canada, Union Minister for Power Sushil Kumar Shinde said his Ministry is in the process of setting up Seven Ultra Mega Power Projects of 4000 MW each in India.

Two of these projects will be coal pithead based plants and three coastal plants based on imported coal. The projects will be in the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Gujarat and Karnataka.

The Ministry of Power is inviting private investment including from the US in these shell companies, with the process of selection of private investors in these companies to be completed by January 2007.

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