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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Strerlite Mining - Orissa - Win for Economy over Environment


The Indian Supreme Court today cleared the diversion of forest land for Sterlite's bauxite mining project and land acquisition for Korean steel giant Posco's 12-million tonne steel plant in mineral-rich Orissa even as opponents of the projects vowed to continue their agitation.

The SC order allows Sterlite, owned by of UK-based Vedanta Resources Inc, to mine bauxite in the Niyamgiri Hill in Kalahandi district to feed an alumina refinery it already built nearby.
Sterlite's Vedanta Alumina, part of the Vedanta Resources Group, is building an $800 million alumina refinery in Kalahandi and an aluminium smelter project costing Rs7,000 crore in Jharsuguda district.
The court also approved the diversion of 3,097 acres of forest land for the Rs50,000 crore ($12 billion)
Posco steel plant in Jagatsinghpur district. It also allowed Posco to buy iron ore from the market for its factory, in addition to procuring the material from Orissa Mining Corporation.
The court has, however, separated the issues of setting up of the plant and procurement, said Janakalyan Das, the Orissa government's counsel.

On 1st February 2004 the representatives of Sterlite Industries India Limited (Sterlite), a bauxite mining company, and the local police, forcibly evicted 35 households from a tribal village, Kinari, Kalahandi district of Orissa, northeast India. Villagers were transferred to a nearby hill slope
and their entire village was bulldozed. These villagers have not yet received compensation and no time was given to them to make arrangements for moving their cattle.
This operation was abruptly undertaken, destroying the residents' ancestral village.
The people only have the last crop as sustenance and no further livelihood. They were cordoned off by the local police like criminals and no one was permitted to meet them. Many other villages like Kapaguda, Belamba, Turiguda, Sindhbahali, Boringpadar and Basantapada are strongly opposing Sterlite.
They have pledged not to leave their land at any cost and have said that they would prefer to die rather than move out.

London-based Survival International director Stephen Corry called the ruling "a devastating blow" to "all of India's tribal peoples."

In Orissa, Dongria Kondh tribal Jitu Jakaka, said: "We are deeply connected with the mountain... our sacred place. It is home to our god Niyamraja. We will not allow the company to mine our land."

Last November, Norway's state pension fund withdrew 13 million dollars in investments in Vedanta, accusing it of "causing serious damage to people and to the environment" in India.

Poor tribal people cannot win against 60,000 crores or the environmental sensitive hill cannot be protected. Economy won over Environment.

People did not learn from past and will not learn:
As Korean firms gain control of gov't flagship mining project :Closure of Rapu-Rapu Mine Sought Anew

“Pack up and out of Rapu-Rapu island for good,” Bicolanos told Korean firms who took over of the Lafayette mining project. After experiencing environmental destruction, loss of livelihood and deterioration of the people’s health, Bicolanos are determined to drive away the new investors in the government’s flagship mining project.

Contributed to Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 19, June 15-21, 2008

However, (Only positive thing) In its order, the bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan said Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd had met the Supreme Court's terms for a bauxite mining project. The SC had earlier denied Vedanta permission
to mine in the state after the company's proposal was challenged by environmentalists. A bench, headed by Justice Balakrishnan had set Vedanta conditions for mining in the ecologically fragile Niyamgiri hills in Kalahandi,
including partnering with a state agency for a permit.

Vedanta then formed the Lanjigarh Scheduled Area Development Foundation with the Orissa government, Orissa Mining Corporation and a unit of Sterlite Industries as stakeholders. The company petitioned the court to allow Orissa Mining's proposal to mine in the hills.

The company also agreed through its unit to give 5 per cent of the annual profit before tax and interest from the project, or Rs10 crore, whichever is higher, to the Lanjigarh Foundation every year, with effect from 1 April, 2007.

It will also pay Rs55 crore for replanting trees in the forest and conservation area, Rs50.5 crore toward wildlife management and Rs12.2 crore for developing the indigenous people of the area. Villagers and tribals opposing Sterlite's mining project said they are determined to continue their protests,
despite the Supreme Court ruling.

Hopefully they will do all these positive things and upbring the tribal people (who have lived in harmony with Nature).

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