Posts filed under ‘Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (VAL), Lanjigarh’

Vedanta Aluminum Limited (VAL) to establish a science college at Lanjigarh

Following report is from The Pioneer:

The Lanjigarh block in Kalahandi district, which has been neglected in almost all aspects of development till now, is soon going to have its first science college. In a move aimed at fulfilling the long cherished goal of the residents of the block and its adjoining areas of Ambadola, Muniguda and Biswanathpur Vedanta Aluminum Limited (VAL) has partnered with the DAV College Trust and Management society to start a Science College here, which will begin its operation from the 2011-12 academic year.

The college will start with undergraduate courses in physics, chemistry, mathematics, zoology, botany and environment science. It will be funded by the Lanjigarh Project Area Development Foundation (LPADF) — the special purpose vehicle formed for as per the advice of the Supreme Court.

Notably, there is no such college within the radius of 50 km of Lanjigarh and the students from the poorer sections here had to discontinue their studies after Class XII.

VAL COO and LPADF Director Mukesh Kumar pointed out that the college would be of great help to the students of the area who drop out of the education system due to lack of facilities for higher studies. The quality of education in the college will be ensured by the DAV College Trust and Management Society, which will manage the college.

Noteworthy, the society is a premier education society in the country, which has already set up more than hundred such colleges across India and is currently running a school, which is considered the most modern school in the entire district.

July 23, 2010 at 8:13 pm Leave a comment

Mining Project will bring development for Dongria Kondh People: A report by Kailash Tudu

Following report is taken from Kalahandia blog:

Contributor: Kailash Tudu

Jitu Jakasika, Then (A Dongria Kondh before making into BBA)

Jitu Jakasika, Now (A Dongria Kondh after making into BBA)

“Dongria Kondh Community want development and mining from Niyamgiri will bring a lot socio-economic development opportunity for the tribals,” says Jitu Jakasika, one of the few English Speaking youths in the Kondh Community. However, few days before, He was well known for his hardcore and stiff opposition for Vedanta and its mining project.

He had visited almost all Dongria Kondh villages to organize people to oppose the mining plan. Continuous feeding of misleading facts and systematic brainwash made him to believe that industrialization and development would dilute the originality and culture of Dongria Kondh tribe. He left his education mid-way to join activists and vehemently opposed industrialization and associated development in the locality.

However, one incident opened eyes of Jitu. He was in Bada Denguni village to organize people against industrialization. The village has no motorable road. A pregnant lady suddenly became critical and was required to be taken to the hospital. However, in absence of any ambulance or vehicle, she was portered to the hospital. Jitu was also with her. On the way, she delivered a baby, who died just after birth. Jitu was shocked by the incident. At that time, the lady told Jitu that due to opposition to industrialization and development linked with it, her child died. If he would not have opposed industry and development work carried out by it, there would have been motorable road to the village and she could have gone to hospital in time. “This was a great learning for me. It forced me to think, whether I am doing the right things by blocking development,” said Jitu Jakasika.

He explored more on industry and development. He visited other industrial sites in the locality and mainly the ongoing bauxite mining sites. He saw for himself that neither Bauxite mining is ecologically hostile, nor it dries the spring and underground water. He also realized that ‘industrialization and development do not dilute tribal culture or lifestyle’.

“We did not want mining at Niyamgiri. We were misguided by different NGOs and groups,’ admits Jitu. He reveals that different NGOs from different countries and political parties, who are working only to fulfill their interests, were claiming that Vedanta’s mining at Niyamgiri would destroy the hill and would adversely affect the environment of the area and the lives of the tribals. Of late, he realized that all these were false claims which were intended to instigate the poor and ignorant tribals against Vedanta. They never want the development of the Dongria Kondhs.

Now, He has stopped to help the outsiders who campaign against industrialization and development of tribal children. After seeing the social development initiatives of Vedanta in periphery villages, he was convinced that development through industrialization can bring development for Dongria kondh people by providing them basic services like, health, education, infrastructure and sustainable livelihood. “I always wanted development of Dongria Kondh community and I believe industrialization can bring rapid development for tribal people,” says Jitu.

He also expressed his desired to resume his studies, so that he could know the mainstream world better and work for development of his community. Vedanta Aluminium Limited, under its Scholarship program provided support for his education. Jitu, a dongria kondh tribe, is now studying at a reputed management college at Bhubaneswar in Bachelor of Business Admission (BBA) program. In holidays, he comes to his villages and encourages fellow community members for education and other development initiatives. He is now playing a key role in facilitating education of tribal children from his villages in formal schooling and Colleges. To him “education alone can remove superstition, reduce vulnerability to contamination and can bring empowerment and in turn development”.

Vedanta’s venture into the aluminium sector of Orissa with signing MoU for an alumina refinery at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi and an aluminium smelter at Jharsuguda was an important event in the aluminium industry of the State. After 25 years, Vedanta set up the first Refinery in the state, which is having more than 55% of India’s Bauxite. And also, Vedanta is the only company that has rolled in its project in Orissa as per its agreement with the State Government and has already started its production partially from its Lanjigarh refinery. The company, which has placed itself in a significant position in the global aluminium industry, is very well concerned towards carrying out its Corporate Social Responsibility and has taken up several initiatives with the aim to bring qualitative improvement in the lives of the community surrounding its plant. VAL has expressed and reiterated its commitment towards socio-economic transformation has now reached ‘the society at large’. And fortunately, the particular society, to which it aimed to transform, has now realized the real intention and motive of Vedanta and has now accepted it. This is very much evident from the positive vibes coming from the statements of some tribal leaders including Jitu.

July 18, 2010 at 8:53 am Leave a comment

Indian environment ministry puts on hold Vedanta varsity in Orissa:IANS

Following is a report by IANS published in http://www.thaindian.com:

New Delhi, May 11 (IANS) The environment ministry Tuesday put on hold construction of the Rs.150 billion Vedanta University in Orissa by the Anil Agarwal Foundation following complaints of irregularities.
The ministry said it had received information alleging irregularities and “illegal, unethical and unlawful deeds” by the foundation.

It said serious objections raised during the Orissa Coastal Zone Management Authority meeting were not appropriately considered while granting coastal regulation zone (CRZ) and environmental clearances.

“The above issues are relevant and important and predict a detailed examination. I have been directed to inform you that the environmental and CRZ clearances issued on April 16, 2010 shall be kept in abeyance till a final decision in the matter is taken by the ministry,” said Bharat Bhushan, director in the ministry, in a letter to the foundation.

The ministry asked the company not to proceed with any construction or development works till a detailed examination of all the issues raised are examined by its Expert Appraisal Committee.

The Anil Agarwal foundation is promoted by NRI billionaire and chairman of Vedanta Resources, Anil Agarwal.

It has proposed to set up the multi-disciplinary Vedanta University over 6,000 acres of land near the Konark-Puri marine drive, some 60 km from the state capital Bhubaneswar.

This not-for-profit university has been envisaged as one-of-its-kind institution for quality higher education and cutting-edge research in 95 disciplines for 100,000 students.

May 11, 2010 at 5:54 pm Leave a comment

Kalahandi MP Bhakta Charan Das raises Niyamgiri mining issue in the Parliament

Following is a report from The Pioneer:

Kalahandi Congress MP Bhakta Charan Das has yet again voiced on the Niyamgiri mining issue in the Parliament urging the Union Government not to give forest clearance saying that the Government of Odisha may be asked to go for other substitute.

He was participating in a debate on the National Green Tribunal Bill, 2009 on April 30 where he expressed his support on the Bill and said that the UPA Government has brought the bill in the interest of environment and the suffering tribal populace dwelling in the forest region.

Bhakta said that the Bill clearly states that the decision would be taken by the majority and naturally when the majority takes the decision, nobody can tamper the decisions taken in the interest of the environment.

Expressing concerns about the climate change, he also voiced against the relentless mining where no compensatory plantations have been done so far following which the ecological imbalance has gone to the extent of causing global warming.

He accused the State Government and private companies of series of violations in this regard saying he had recently pointed out some of the violations committed by the companies to the Environment and Forests Minister for which the Minister has taken the matter seriously and not yet given clearance for mining bauxite in Niyamgiri hill.

Expressing the situation of Niyamgiri hill, he said that about 8,000 primitive tribals and more than a lakh of people sustain their livelihood out of traditional earnings from the forest region spread over 240 sq km in Raygada, Gajapati and Kalahandi districts of Odisha which is having 26,000 plants, lots of animals and medicinal plants.

He also alleged that a large number of trees have been felled in Odisha during the last ten years and the environmental damage is caused to the highest extent by the State Government. “Our tribal people could not make any appeal before anybody,” he quipped.

Supporting the bill, he said the tribal have got their rights now to make an appeal before the Tribunal to save their forests, sustainability and future.

May 7, 2010 at 6:10 pm 3 comments

The Orissa state pollution control board clears Vedanta refinery at Lanjigarh

Following is a report from http://economictimes.indiatimes.com:

BHUBANESWAR: The Orissa state pollution control board has given a clean chit to Vedanta’s alumina refinery in the state’s Kalahandi district after conducting checks in the areas near the plant, an official said on Thursday.

 

The board had launched a probe after series of allegations made by some individuals and organisations in January this year, claiming at least 100 people died of tuberculosis over the past few years by the pollution caused by the plant at Lanjigarh, some 500 km from here.

A delegation led by local tribal leader Sridhar Pesnia in January submitted a memorandum to the state government, alleging the deaths of cattle and birds in the area.

A team of scientists from the board made an on-the-spot enquiry last month and collected data and samples from different sources, including data from local health department, a senior official of the board said.

“As per the report the scientists submitted, only one death has occurred – in 2006 – due to tuberculosis in the periphery area of the refinery between 2002 and 2010,” he said.

The team analysed the water samples from the river, streams and tubewell from various locations around the plant and found that the pollution in surrounding surface and ground water remained within acceptable limits.

April 22, 2010 at 5:20 pm Leave a comment

Vedanta University project gets environmental clearance from union ministry of environment and forests (MOEF)

Following is a report by IANS published in http://in.news.yahoo.com:

Bhubaneswar, April 17 (IANS) The Rs.150 billion Vedanta University project in Orissa by the Anil Agarwal foundation has got environmental and coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearances from the central government, a project spokesman said Saturday.

‘The union ministry of environment and forests (MOEF) has granted the environment and CRZ clearances to the Vedanta University project,’ Sasanka Patnaik told IANS.

‘We received the letter from the ministry today (Saturday),’ he said.

The Anil Agarwal foundation is promoted by NRI billionaire and chairman of Britain’s Vedanta Resources Anil Agarwal.

It has proposed to set up a multi-disciplinary Vedanta University over 6,000 acres of land near the Konark-Puri marine drive, some 60 km from here.

This not-for-profit university, being built on a global scale, has been envisaged as one-of-its-kind institution for quality higher education and cutting-edge research facility in 95 academic disciplines for 100,000 students.

April 17, 2010 at 4:57 pm Leave a comment

Blatant efforts to wage a proxy war: An article on Dantewada massacre and Maoists by M G Devasahayam

Following is an Op-Ed from http://expressbuzz.com by M G Devasahayam:

The Dantewada massacre took the lives of 76 CRPF jawans and caused a huge setback to the Union home ministry’s self-proclaimed ‘war on tribal terror’. It also portends a debilitating civil war unless humane governance replaces the gun-wielding ‘area-domination’ mindset in the heartland.

Instead all we get is sound-bytes. Union home minister P Chidambaram says something must have gone “drastically wrong” and orders an inquiry. Before finding out what went wrong, he discreetly suggests the use of air power against the Maoists: “At present there is no mandate to use the Air Force or any aircraft. But, if necessary, we will have to revisit the mandate to make some changes.” But the Air Force chief says: “Our training and weapons are meant for enemies across the border and to inflict maximum lethality. We cannot do this on our own people.” The army chief too says it is not wise to deploy the army against Naxalites. Defence minister A K Antony rules out direct deployment of armed forces.

Pushed on the back foot, Chidambaram offers to resign, which as expected is rejected by the prime minister. The BJP spokesperson says Chidambaram has been entrusted with the nation’s security and the responsibility is his. They want him to ‘face boldly the situation which has arisen.’ Their ally and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is more to the point. He wants Chidambaram to work more and speak less and control his ‘tone and tenor’.

As for Chidambaram, if the Maoists believe in shooting their way to revolutionary glory, he seems to believe he can rein them in by shooting off his mouth and jumping the gun with his thoughtless rhetoric. When he visited Lalgarh on April 4, everyone expected a series of confidence-boosting measures. But he tried to pass the buck to the state government. For good measure, he added that the Maoists were “cowards hiding in jungles” and fixed a three-year timeframe for their elimination. The Maoists hit back with a vengeance within 48 hours, butchering 76 security personnel. A rattled Chidambaram hurriedly termed the Maoists ‘savage’ as if the whole issued hinged on the adjectives he chose.

He did not even spare army chief general V K Singh who had said in good faith that the massacre was perhaps due to inadequate training and orientation. One need not be a top-notch commando, as the general was in his younger days, to say this. Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of jungle warfare would say this a thousand times.

Why is the ‘calm, composed and competent’ darling of India’s neo-liberal media getting so worked up when it comes to tribals and unwashed Naxal-Maoists? Why does he brand well-meaning intellectuals and ideologues as Naxalite-extremists? Why have things gone so far as to make social activists lament that ‘in this country whoever tries to fight for justice, who talks about the poor, who brings up the issue of human rights, the government labels all of them as Naxal supporters’.

The answer lies in the mandate of Operation Green Hunt — to clear the tribal area of insurgent groups, hold the territory to ensure that Maoists can’t re-enter, and, finally, prepare the ground for development projects by ‘civilian agencies’. This is not a mandate for a counter-insurgency mission in the jungles where paramilitary forces are expected to ‘fight guerrillas like a guerrilla’ and not capture or hold territory.

Then for whom is this mandate intended? Obviously for the mining-MNCs who can build their industrial empires on this ‘captured’ territory. A look at the interests of the London-based MNC — Vedanta Resources plc, one of the world’s largest — gives enough clues. Of India’s total aluminium capacity of 1.3 million tonnes, Vedanta’s share is 3,85,000 tonnes. Its 5,00,000-tonne smelter in Orissa’s Jharsuguda is getting commissioned and the company will ultimately create 1.6 million tonnes of smelting capacity there, to be backed by a five million-tonne alumina refinery at Lanjigarh and a power complex of 3,750 MW. Its subsidiary, Balco’s capacity will be raised to one million tonnes.

In Lanjigarh alone Vedanta has access to bauxite deposits of 75 million tonnes and the government has promised an equally large deposit nearby. A five million tonne refinery is justified provided links to bauxite deposits lasting for about 50 years can be acquired. Orissa, where most of Vedanta’s aluminium action is to unfold, has an estimated 1.7 billion tonnes of the country’s total 3.3 billion tonnes of reserves. Vedanta says it has strong claims to free deposits because of the world’s single largest smelter it is committed to building at Jharsuguda.

If Vedanta has its way all this capacity will be on the ground by 2013. These reserves lie under the tribal forestland. It all depends whether Chidambaram can secure and deliver this land, a task he has taken upon himself and for the purpose declared a state-of-war.

The fact that Chidambaram had a close relationship with Vedanta raises serious concerns about the motive, agenda and mandate of this ‘war on tribal terror’. In 2003, he represented Sterlite Industries (a group company) before the Bombay High Court, when it faced charges of avoiding customs duties and tax evasion. Shortly afterwards, Chidambaram became a director on the board of Vedanta and only surrendered this job on May 22, 2004 — a day before taking up the position of finance minister at the Centre.

With an orchestrated neo-liberal media baying for ‘full-scale war’, area-domination operations have restarted. This time around it is the commandos of the Special Action Force who have been specially trained to fight Naxals. And the tribals are fleeing their villages. The question is: With such a blatant and high-level ‘conflict of interest’ does the home ministry have any moral authority to pursue this proxy-war?(The writer is a retired IAS officer)

April 16, 2010 at 4:01 pm 1 comment

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