Vedanta’s #CSR : Resettlement ‘prison’ and false arrests at Lanjigarh #WTFnews


18th June, 2013.  This report comes direct from members of the Foil Vedanta team on the ground in Niyamgiri:

Vedanta’s resettlment colony at Lanjigarh with Niyamgiri

Vedanta Raj- Age of New License Raj and Draconian Policing

On 7th June 2013, a four member team visited the Vedanta re-settlement colony in Lanjigarh, known as Vedanta Nagar, to interview a few people people settled there. As soon as we entered the colony, Vedanta’s Public Relations Officer – Mr. Siddharth Behera, and the Associate officer in charge of the colony – Mr Srikant Bohidar appeared riding a motorcycle, and started questioning us about what we were doing there and who we were. One of our team was a journalist with a press card, when he showed this one of the officers looked particularly worried. He started calling up higher level officials.

 

While two of us talked to these purveyors of ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’, the other two rushed to the house of Tula Dei whom we knew from before. Tula Dei and her family, from Sindhabahili village, was among the people who had vehemently resisted Vedanta when the refinery was being built in Lanjigarh, for which twelve villages were cleared. She and her family had refused to vacate their house and did not succumb to the pressure and force tactics applied by Vedanta. When we met Tula Dei, she informed us that they had to ultimately vacate their house and accept Vedanta’s resettlement package, as the poisonous smoke and dust from the refinery were affecting her and her families’ health and made it impossible to live there any longer. She complained how she still had not received her ‘patta’ and land document papers from Vedanta, and they had been not given the promised settlement money. She also informed us that her husband had been arrested by the police in January 2013, and has been in jail since then. She had not been provided any details by the police regarding what charges her husband had been arrested on -

Tula Dei resisting eviction from her old house

I have no idea why they arrested my husband. The police and lawyers do not give us any details. False charges must have been framed against my husband. They are constantly trying to intimidate and harass us. Whenever we raise our voice in protest, they frame some charge and arrest a family member. Our family’s livelihood has been completely destroyed. Vedanta has ruined our lives ever since it came here. Fear and injustice is all we have known since then”

 

As we were taking this interview with our video camera, the Vedanta official who was questioning us earlier, arrived at Tula Dei’s house, along with another CSR official. When we asked them why Tula Dei had not received any land documents yet, one of them replied saying,

 

These people came on the third and last phase, so their documentation is delayed. It should arrive in a week’s time. Initially they had resisted the company, but later on because of dust and other problems, they decided to accept the company’s package”.

 

This official however, denied having mentioned ‘dust and other problems’ when we interrogated him just seconds later about villagers around the refinery and resettled villagers, having TB and other diseases, —- “they drink too much, it has nothing to do with the refinery or pollution”, he said. We then asked them if we could get some documents about the rehabilitation process, at which we were told that we need to go to the Lanjigarh office for that.

 

Vedanta Aluminium‘s Jharsuguda resettlement colony

At this point, two of us left while the other two continued to face questions from the two employees of Vedanta. Siddharth Behera – who had introduced himself as the Public Relations Officer (PRO) for Vedanta began asking questions about the press card, calling the TV station to check that he really was a journalist. When this was confirmed he suggested they came to the Vedanta Aluminium office to speak to another PR Officer – Mr Bhagwan Hota. Later on we discovered that Mr Siddarth was not a company spokesperson but a local agent.

 

The other two of us were escorted to the bus stop outside Vedanta Nagar. We were prevented from talking to or meeting any more people in the resettlement colony. At the Lanjigarh bus-stop, two more senior employees of Vedanta’s CSR division arrived, making the number of people who had so far questioned us to four. While we were speaking to them, one of the senior employees took our photographs. They wanted us to show them our identity proofs and bombarded us with all sorts of questions regarding the purpose of our visit. In the end, one of the senior officials said, “Write a positive report, ok?”.

 

Lanjigarh refinery

This incident is indeed outrageous. Four CSR officials had come to question us within less than half an hour of our presence in the rehabilitation colony. Vedanta’s CSR is the establishment of a heinous system of surveillance and intimidation. The resettlement colony is like a fortress, where any ‘outsider’ presence is strictly monitored. This shows how scared Vedanta is of stories of its human rights violations and dubious rehabilitation reaching out to the public. This incident clearly elucidates that CSR officials of Vedanta are the company’s puppets, whose ‘responsibility’ is to police people, to hide the truth and to monotonously narrate lies of “Mining happiness”, of success stories of ‘development’ and ‘progress’. The resettlement complex is indeed Vedanta’s ‘colony’, where it has shamelessly set up mechanisms of draconian policing —- a neo-colonial License Raj on people who lie in fear at the margins and in whose name we call for ‘development’.

Posted:  June 18th, 2013   

 

Showcause notice to Vedanta unit for violating EPA #goodenws


The Jharsuguda district administration has issued show cause notice to the alumina smelting and power generation unit of Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (VAL) for construction work in the area violating the provisions mentioned in Environment Protection Act, 1986.

“The construction work done by VAL at its smelter unit and power plant has invited provisions mentioned in section 15 (contravention of the act) and 16 (offenses by the company) of the environment protection act. They have been asked to reply within two weeks,” says Rabindra K Mishra, additional district magistrate of Jharsuguda district.

As per the order, the CEO of VAL Jharsuguda unit has to present before the district administration on February 28 for preliminary hearing at the collectorate. The Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) had earlier communicated to the state government about violation of the act by VAL.

Vedanta said it has not received any notices and will reply only after getting the physical copy of it.

 

#Vedanta ropes in IBM to enable strong business growth


The company has tied up with IBM to create a robust infrastructure for the resource planning system of its power business InformationWeek, December 11, 2012

IBM today announced that Vedanta, a global natural resources group, has tied up with IBM to create a robust infrastructure for the resource planning system of their power business. IBM has leveraged its BladeCenter and System X storage portfolio to help Vedanta enhance its overall management system and reduce costs.

Vedanta, primarily engaged in the copper, zinc, silver, aluminium, iron ore as well as power businesses, works across India, Zambia, Namibia, Africa, Liberia, Ireland and Australia, among others. The IBM implementation has been done at their center in Jharsuguda in Odisha. The solution stack offered to Vedanta in Odisha includes BladeCenter Chasis, Blade Server and Disk Storage. The solution offered by IBM is said to augment the hardware infrastructure of Vedanta, while reducing the total cost of ownership.

“We have partnered with IBM from the inception of our plant in Jharsuguda and Lanjigarh. While we have worked with other vendors, we are seeing strong benefits from working with IBM technology. This has helped us in reducing data center costs of power and server footprint, while facilitating ease of management,” said Subrata Banerjee, CIO, Vedanta Aluminum.

Given that in India, local businesses have been very keen on overhauling their traditional system to incorporate a robust IT set-up, IBM is looking to bring in world-class technology to remote regions. IBM also has a major programme of geo expansion in places across India to increase its presence in smaller, rapidly developing cities and their new office in Odisha is a part of their expansion plans.

“Odisha is an important region for IBM, and the company is focused on growing its presence in the region to help businesses transform themselves and succeed in a dynamic environment,” Vivek Malhotra, Regional Territory Executive, IBM General Business, India/ South Asia said.

 

Vedanta’s Alumina Refinery Shuts Down In Odisha


Unable to secure bauxite despite concerted efforts, the Vedanta group said it has shut down its alumina refinery at Lanjigarh in Odisha’s Kalahandi district
Vedanta's Alumina Refinery Shuts Down In Odisha

Picture by Reuters

Unable to secure bauxite despite concerted efforts, the Vedanta group on 5 December’ 2012 said it has shut down its one million tonne alumina refinery at Lanjigarh in Odisha’s Kalahandi district.
“We are forced to close down the Lanjigarh refinery due to depletion of stock of bauxite. Despite efforts over the past three months, we were unable to ensure sustainable supplies,” CEO of Vedanta Aluminium Mukesh Kumar told PTI over phone.
“For the last few days, we ran the unit at around 20 per cent of capacity incurring heavy loss,” Kumar said.
The bauxite stock was ‘almost zero’, a senior Vedanta official said.
The mining conglomerate, which runs the refinery of Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (VAL), had given a closure notice to the Odisha government on September 5 on shutting operations from December 5, citing severe shortage of bauxite as the main reason.
Stating that 10,000-11,000 tonne of bauxite was required per day for normal functioning of the refinery, Kumar said the company explored several sources outside Odisha, but failed to secure more than 3,000 tonne daily.
Though the company’s top management met Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and chief secretary several times for bauxite for the refinery, no solution could be found, he said.
Voicing doubt over immediate revival of the plant, another company official said that the 75 mw captive power plant set up in Lanjigarh would also have to be shut down in view of the uncertain scenario.
A company official had said earlier that the shutdown of the refinery was likely to affect about 3,000 workforce directly and around 4,500 indirectly, although “we are not contemplating any retrenchment at the moment”.
The company has invested about Rs 50,000 crore in the refinery along with an aluminium smelter of 1.5 mtpa and a captive power plant in Jharsuguda.

(PTI)

 

#Vedanta Aluminum Ash Pipe bursts, lands destroyed


By  http://jsglive.in/ November 5, 2012

Jharsuguda: Early morning, Vedanta Aluminum’s Ash Pipe had burst due to which nearby land had been covered with Ash slurry.  This incident took place at Musulkani Village under Jharsuguda Block Kurebaga Panchayat.

In this regard, Villagers of Kurebaga Panchayat along with Women had gathered huge numbers in front of Vedanta Gate No. 2 protested against the company and demanded for the compensation for the same blaming that their lands had been affected due to this Ash Pipe bursted.

In this Dharna , Tularam Nayak , Ex- Sarpanch of Kurebaga Srikant Nayak , Amrita Nayak , Sahdev Nayak , Kustu Patel , Kishori Nayak along with several villagers were present.

According to the sources, Vedanta‘s Officer Mr. Bharjin Lakara of CSR Wings had come to talk with the villagers but it turned to be unfruitful. However, seeing the outrage, police force along with Jharsuguda Thasildhar Rajendra Minz had reached the spot and has assured the villagers that the compensation would be provided as per the government norms.

But the villagers who were adamant and stuck with their demand were later on evicted by the police.

As per the villagers, the people who have been affected due to this were Chandra shekhar Nayak , Bibisan Nayak , Bisiketan Nayak , Chudamani Nayak , Muza Nayak , Kuber Nayak.

In this context, The Company Officials had blamed that last four months their Ash Pipe is being continuously stolen by the scrap mafias because of which they have increased its security forces around the Ash Pipes.

They have also told that the Yesterdays also some miscreants were trying to cut the pipes due to which the ongoing Ash slurry busted out of the Pipe. However, when the management learnt about the incident and immediately closed the ash slurry and ordered for repairing and presently the pipe is being repaired now.  In this context an FIR is also being given in Badmal Police Station.

 

Vedanta’s mining activities in Orissa being financed by public funds


OERC whip on Vedanta
Bhubaneswar : 14/October/2012

The Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (VAL) was found illegally sourcing power from Group Company, Sterlite Energy Limited (SEL) causing losses to the tune of Rs 15crores to the Reliance Infra-owned licensed distribution company WESCO in Odisha.


Holding the activities of VAL as “illegal”, the Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) has directed the Vedanta to cough up the amount due to the DISCOM.

Importantly, the Commission, while disposing off the case, has defined the terms “Open Access’ and “deemed licensee” in a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) which will have far reaching ramifications.

The Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) aluminum manufacturing unit at Jharsuguda in Odisha which has been notified as a SEZ was sourcing power directly form Group company SEL, Independent Power Plant (IPP) located adjacent to the SEZ through a dedicated 400 KV double circuit transmission line.

Claiming that the VAL-SEZ’s sourcing power from SEL-IPP amounts to Open Access drawl of power, the WESCO, which is the sole licensee for power distribution in the area, demanded cross subsidy surcharge on the quantum of power availed by VAL-SEZ.

The Odisha Power Transmission Corporation Limited (OPTCL), the sole licensee for transmission business, also raised objection to the SEL-IPP’s “illegal” laying of 400 KV line in their areas of operation. GRIDCO, the sole bulk power supplier, and the SLDC also become party to the case protesting against these activities of Vedanta.

Interestingly, when the OERC construed that the VAL-SEZ’s sourcing of power is Open Access drawl of power and directed the Vedanta to pay the cross-subsidy surcharge to WESCO, Vedanta came before the Commission with two applications seeking approval for PPA between VAL-SEZ and SEL-IPP, and license for VAL –SEZ to carryout distribution business inside the SEZ area.

Vedanta claimed that the SEZ notification has given the promoter the status of deemed licensee. “So, according distribution licensee by the OERC is only a formality.”

It claimed that there is no illegality in VAL-SEZ directly sourcing power from SEL-IPP and it does not amount to Open Access drawl of power. Ridiculously, Vedanta put forth that the individual units of the aluminium plant such as pot lines, carbon plant, cast house etc. are individual consumers of power.

The three-member Commission, comprising Chairman SP Nanda, members B K Mishra and S.P.Swain, rejected the applications of Vedanta and directed the company to pay the cross subsidy surcharge to the WESCO.

“Consequent upon the rejection of this application the applicant is be treated asconsumer of WESCO, the existing DISCOM of the area. As a result M/s. VAL-SEZhas to pay cross-subsidy surcharge to WESCO for Open Access drawl of power from M/s. SEL”, observed the OERC.

While passing the order, last week, the OERC has also made some  adverse remarks about the company

“It has been stated earlier that much before the application for PPA with M/s. SEL and the present application for grant of distribution license were filed, the applicant has been enjoying power in an illegal and unauthorized manner from M/s. SEL through a 400 KV double circuit transmission line.”

Stating that the present application for grant of distribution license is a ploy by which the consumer wants to escape from payment of open access charges, the Commission has observed that this is a matter where the substance should prevail over form – the applicant cannot take shelter under a web of technicalities to subvert the purpose of the Act.

“This is not a genuine application for taking a distribution license for giving supply of electricity to genuine consumers in a particular area to increase competition and efficiency. This is an attempt to avoid payment of open access charges for unauthorized drawl of power from M/s. SEL for a number of years”, remarked the Commission

 

Odisha CM assures steps to prevent closure of #Vedanta’s Lanjigarh refinery #goodnews


 

Shishir Sinha, The Hindu

New Delhi, Sept. 29:

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has promised to initiate efforts to avert the closure of the Lanjigarh plant of Vedanta Aluminium. The company has said it would shut down the plant from December 5 citing the lack of assured supplies of bauxite.

 

This promise was given to a 30-member delegation comprising representatives of the employees and the local community when they met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneswar on Saturday. They appealed to him to save the Vedanta alumina refinery at Lanjigarh.

The delegation submitted a memorandum and appealed for regular supplies of bauxite from Odisha to the alumina refinery at Lanjigarh so that the company doesn’t close it down.

 

The Chief Minister told the delegation, “I will follow it up and take the matter forward in consultation with the Chief Secretary. All necessary steps will be taken.”

A day earlier, the delegation had submitted a memorandum to the Chief Secretary, the Minister of Mines, and the Minister of Labour and Employment. The Chief Secretary assured them that he would take steps to sort out the issue in the interest of the people.

 

The local community said the company had already sent a temporary closure notice to the Odisha Government due to a lack of raw material (bauxite) and at this juncture, if a regular supply of bauxite was not be maintained, thousands of people would be impacted. “In spite of having large quantities of bauxite in the State, if Vedanta Alumina Refinery closes down, Kalahandi will again become poverty-affected,” the memorandum said.

 

“I am from Lanjigarh of Kalahandi and I know that if the company closes down, it would affect the lives of more than 20,000 people. We want the Government to take immediate measures for the supply of bauxite to the company so that we and our region prospers,” Srikant Bohidar of Lanjigarh said.

 

Earlier this month, the company served a formal notice to the Odisha Government through the Labour Commissioner. The company had said, “The unit has already incurred financial losses to the tune of more than Rs 2,500 crore. Further operation of the refinery is not feasible unless supply of Odisha bauxite to the refinery is assured.”

 

The company’s refinery, located in the backward district of Kalahandi, has a capacity of 1 million tonnes. It has invested over Rs 8,000 crore, out of total investments of Rs 50,000 crore in Odisha. The refinery feeds alumina to its smelters located in Jharsuguda and Korba

 

Shishir.Sinha@thehindu.co.in

 

Odisha: Dalit woman tonsured, assaulted; 10 arrested


By PTI – SAMBALPUR

08th September 2012 02:15 PM

A Dalit woman was assaulted, tortured and tonsured by locals after holding her responsible for the death of a youth under mysterious circumstances in Sambalpur district, the police said today.

“Ten persons were arrested on the basis of an FIR lodged by the victim Subidha Buda, a Dalit woman of Jayaghanta village in Dhama police station,” Inspector-in-Charge G Barla said.

Buda’s 18-year-old daughter had an affair with Sudam Mahananda of the same village. The duo had eloped from the village on August 11 but Sudam fell ill on the way and was declared brought dead at the government hospital at Jharsuguda, he said.

Holding the 45-year-old woman and her family responsible for Sudam’s death, the villagers had staged a road blockade on August 12 by keeping the body on the road to demand inquiry into the incident and arrest of the culprits, sources said.

They had also asked the family to leave the village, the police said. After being made to leave the village, the family was staying at their elder daughter’s place in nearby Baunsura.

However, the woman had come to her house to take some household goods on Thursday when villagers dragged her out, assaulted and tortured before shaving her head.

However, no case was registered under the SC/ST Atrocities Act as both the complainant and accused belonged to the Scheduled Caste, police officer Burla said.

Cases were registered against 18 persons and effort is on to nab the others involved in the incident, sources said.

Vedanta Aluminium to acquire L&T’s bauxite mines in Orissa for $330M


Monday, June 11, 2012

English: Vedanta Nagar Lanjigarh

English: Vedanta Nagar Lanjigarh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BY  Team Vcc
This follows a deal struck in February wherein VAL entered into a tripartite agreement with L&T and Raykal Aluminium Company Private Ltd.

LSE-listed Vedanta Resources’ group firm Vedanta Aluminium (VAL) has struck a deal to acquire Raykal Aluminium Company Private Ltd (Raykal) from diversified conglomerate Larsen & Toubro (L&T) for Rs 1,811 crore ($330 million) over a period of time in a milestone-based acquisition, the company has disclosed.

In the first leg of the deal, it has acquired 24.5 per cent of Raykal for Rs 200.7 crore ($36 million).

This follows a deal struck in February wherein VAL entered into a tripartite agreement with L&T and Raykal. L&T holds certain prospecting licenses for bauxite mines located at Sijmali and Kurumali of Rayagad and Kalahandi districts of Orissa. By this agreement the entire bauxite excavated from above mines will be available for the use of Raykal and/or Vedanta Aluminium.

Bauxite is a key raw material used for alumina production. The mines would feed the alumina plant of VAL in the state.

Incorporated in 2001, VAL is a producer of metallurgical grade alumina and other aluminium products, which cater to a wide spectrum of industries.

The firm operates 1 mtpa greenfield alumina refinery and an associated 75 MW captive power plant at Lanjigarh in the state of Orissa. It is increasing the capacity of the Lanjigarh refinery to 5 mtpa.

It has also invested in a 0.5 mtpa aluminum smelter and 1,215 MW captive power plant at Jharsuguda, Orissa. As per its website, it is also constructing 1.1 mtpa aluminium smelter expansion project at Jharsuguda.

Jharsuguda is also the site of 2,400 MW independent power plant being set up by group company Sterlite Energy Ltd.

For Vedanta Resources group, this deal comes as yet another big ticket acquisition in the country. The metal & mining firm which has diversified into oil business among other areas has struck multi-billion dollar deal for Cairn India and has also expanded in the mining field by snapping Sesa Goa few years ago.