Posts filed under ‘Vedanta University’

Tribal faith vs Vedanta might in Kalahandi: A report from The Economic Times

Following is the complete report:

LANJIGARH/BHAWANIPATNA: Kalahandi has always captured the national imagination, but never for the right reasons. Recurring poverty deaths and reports about entire communities surviving on mango kernels defined this predominantly tribal district in southern Orissa for decades.

So when the London-listed, Indian-run miner Vedanta Plc announced plans in 2002 to set up a Rs 4,000-crore bauxite refinery and bauxite mining project in the district’s Niyamgiri hills, there was a feeling in New Delhi and Bhubaneswar that Kalahandi was finally climbing on to the development bandwagon.

“A big company was coming to Kalahandi… It would make the district into something like Kolkata or Mumbai. That’s how we felt then,” said local journalist Mahamad Ashlam.

Eight years on, Ashlam is a disappointed man. It is a feeling shared by Kalahandi’s elected representatives, people living near the refinery, the local middle class and the business community. The company, too, says it is disappointed because the refinery can break even only if the state government acts on its promise to let it mine in the bauxite-rich Niyam Dongar mountain.

Vedanta wants the flat-top mountain massif, the best-forested in the Niyamgiri hill range, but the local Dongria Kondh tribals say it is the abode of their god Niyam Raja. The surreal fight between the $12.3-billion mining firm and tribals facing extinction has already drawn parallels with James Cameron’s blockbuster film Avatar.

The David-versus-Goliath battle has drawn in a variety of actors—from tribals to environmentalists to politicians to non-government organisations. Even the Church of England waded into the controversy, selling its stake in the company last February to protest the company’s allegedly poor human rights record.

The battle is being fought against the backdrop of raging Maoist violence in tribal areas across several Indian states, which means a decision on whether to let the company mine the Niyam Dongar will not be an easy one.

The government, increasingly having to reckon with deep disenchantment felt by several tribal communities about the country’s industrialisation agenda, will be forced to confront the issue soon. The environment ministry’s Forest Advisory Committee, which advises the government on whether forestland should be diverted for non-forest use, will meet on April 16, after which it will submit its recommendations to the ministry to take the final call.

As D-day approaches, it is instructive to know just how Vedanta got here. To understand that question, and to make sense of the claims and counterclaims made by the company and the local community, ET traveled to Kalahandi last month.

April 13, 2010 at 6:36 pm Leave a comment

Oppn ups ante against Naveen on land for Vedanta University:Aftermath of Lokpal Justice Patra’s report

Following is a report from

BHUBNESWAR: Vedanta Group chairman Anil Agarwal is having harrowing time. His dream project, Vedanta University at Puri, is not only facing stiff

opposition from the locals, but also now mired in legal controversy following Lok Pal’s order the government for a vigilance probe if handing over of the Puri Jagannath temple land to the Anil Agarwal Foundation was in breach of law and whether any official had a role in it.

The opposition Congress on Monday accused chief minister Naveen Patnaik of favouring Vedanta Universiy by violating law of the land by handing over temple land without following due procedure. The party also demanded resignation of the chief minister and face an “impartial probe” into the handing over Jagannath temple trust land to the London-based Vedanta Resources which is setting up a university project at Puri.

Addressing a press conference here, senior Congress leaders Narasingha Mishra, Nalini Mohanty, L.B. Mohapatra, Niranjan Patnaik and Sibananda Ray said although an Assembly committee constituted by former Speaker Kishore Mohanty had estimated the cost of 1200 acres land given to Vedanta at Rs 80 crore, the company paid a pittance i.e only Rs 8 crore.

“The handing over of the Jaganath temple trust land to Vedanta smacks of a huge scam. The state law department had given adverse note on the transfer of land. But the chief minister office overlooked this for some obvious reasons,” they said, adding an impartial probe could unearth the scam.

Acting on a petition filed by Dwaraka Mohan Mishra, a trade union leader, the Lok Pal last week had asked the state government to submit a report within three months after complying with the recommendations given by him in this case. The Lok Pal has also recommended a moratorium on the project till the Anil Agarwal Foundation complies with the legal provisions pointed out by the Ministry of Company Affairs for conversion of its status from private to public company.

Legally the state government could acquire land for the Anil Agarwal Foundation if the Foundation was a public company. This has been the consistent view of the Law Department of Government of Orissa. The then Orissa chief secretary approved the proposal for land acquisition in the instant case on the 12th December 2006. Accordingly lands belonging to private persons as well as to Shri Jagannath Temple were gradually acquired. But no previous sanction of the state government was taken before acquiring the land belonging to Shri Jagannath Temple though previous sanction was mandatory as per Section 16 of Shri Jagannath Temple Act, 1954, which has embroiled Anil Agarwal Foundation into fresh trouble, officials said here.

Justice Patra has made it clear that if the Jaganath Temple Act and the Land Acquisition Act have not been complied with, no temple land could be handed over to the Foundation for the proposed University. Besides, he has recommended that the state government should work out a scheme for phase-wise delivery of land required for the university project. He also suggested that the vigilance cell should monitor the progress of the project and see that land is acquired and delivered in a phase-wise manner to the foundation so that it is not misused.

Justice Patra has asked the state government to ensure payment of adequate compensation by the Foundation to those affected by the project.

April 5, 2010 at 5:08 pm Leave a comment

Indian govt team visiting mining site of Niyamgiri hills to probe land grab charge against Vedanta

Following is a report by IANS published in Yahoo India News:

Bhubaneswar, Jan 30 (IANS) A central team is visiting a mining site in Orissa’s Niyamgiri hills to probe the allegation against British mining major Vedanta that it had grabbed forest land, officials said Saturday.

The union ministry of environment and forests team, led by senior official Usha Ramnath, visited Niyamgiri hill in the district of Kalahandi and inspected the site to find out if the mining major has flouted government guidelines, district collector R. Santhanagopalan told IANS.

The two-member team that arrived in the state Thursday is expected to hold discussions with local tribals and officials before departing for New Delhi Monday, he said.

It is the second union forest and environment ministry team to visit the site in the past one month in the wake of allegations that the company had carried out construction work on government land in violation of ministry guidelines.

Vedanta Alumina, part of the Anil Agarwal-promoted Vedanta Resources Plc, has built an alumina refinery at an investment of $800 million at the foot of the Niyamgiri hills, where production has already started.

The firm, which is currently sourcing bauxite from other states at market rates, said mining permission in the hills was essential for it to reduce cost of production.

The project to mine bauxite in the Niyamgiri hills – held sacred by the locals and awaiting central nod – has been vehemently opposed by residents and social activists.

A state investigating team had conducted a probe in November in the same site, some 600 km from state capital Bhubaneswar, and said it did not find any illegal construction activities by the company.

‘The construction was done in non-forest area which the government has already handed over to the firm, and it is not unlawful,’ Santhanagopalan, who had led the state government team, said.

‘There was no construction by the firm either found in the mining lease area or outside of the plant area,’ he said.

The union forest and environment ministry teams have however not revealed their findings.

January 30, 2010 at 7:37 am Leave a comment

Vedanta hopes to get bauxite from Lanjigarh of Kalahandi

January 21, 2010 at 6:45 pm Leave a comment

Opposition expresses concern over land for Vedanta Varsity

Following is a report from The Pioneer:

The voice raised in the Rajya Sabha on the issue of giving thorium-rich land to Vedanta Group to set up a world class university on the Puri-Konark marine drive was echoed on the floor of the Odisha Legislative Assembly on Wednesday.

In response to a question of Rajya Sabha member Rudra Narayan Pany, Union Minister Prithviraj Chavan on behalf of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on November 26 stated that Atomic Mineral Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) has identified 1.82 million tones of thorium bearing monazite resources in the land given to Vedanta. Thorium is a fertile element and can be converted to fissile element to produce atomic energy in the 3rd stage of the nuclear power programme of India, he said.

Raising the issue on the floor of the State Assembly during the Zero Hour, senior Congress member Santosh Singh Saluja said after the issue of thorium came to light; the land allotted to Vedanta has become a cause of concern. “If the enriched thorium goes out side the country and utilise for atomic purpose, it would send an alarm bell for India. Around 10.80 lakh metric tonne of thorium is deposited in these lands. If thorium is taken out from the land, the level of the sea would go up and the entire Puri town would be submerged under sea,” Saluja warned.

Demanding the scraping of the deal, Saluja said the Government should take steps to take away the land from Vedanta. NCP member Amar Satpathy also expressed his contention on the issue. “The Centre should conduct a survey on this issue. Whether the land allotted to Vedanta has been surveyed by the IBM or not,” Satpathy said, adding that the Government should make a statement on the issue.

On the other hand, Higher Education Minister Debi Prasad Mishra said no one should be worried about it. “Vedanta has given the surface right only to use the land. If any mineral is found in the land, the land would ultimately go to the Centre as per the provision of the Constitution,” he said.

December 3, 2009 at 10:50 am Leave a comment

Samruddha Odisha proposed for Establishing Vedanta University in Western Odisha

Following is a report from

President of the Samruddha Orissa  Dr Jatish Mohanty has proposed the state government to set up the Vedanta University in some parts of the Western Orissa region instead of Puri-Konark marine drive.

As Vedanta is setting up of the plant in western Orissa and the mines are also located in the region the university should be set up there . He said that the sea-beach land which is meant for tourism based industries should not be given for the university.

He demanded that before giving land to the university, the opinion of the people of the State should be taken into consideration.

If tourism based industries are set up on the sea-beach, lakhs of job opportunities can be created and if the state government does not take any pro-active step regarding it his party would launch an agitation soon .


October 27, 2009 at 5:27 pm Leave a comment

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