Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Vedanta Alumina's shut down: lesson for Odisha

The following news show how the arm twisting act of the green criminal Vedanta is yet to work.  However, a few things get clear. I flag off a couple of issues here below:

1. The company had taken the government and rules of law of the country for a ride and thought it would obtain bauxite my hook or crook, by bribing people at helm of affairs.  It is evident from the fact that the company invested thousands of crores without being sure of obtaining the raw materials?

2. The myth that industrialization such as this provides growth and employment has been proved wrong once again.  It was first proved when Vedanta provided much less jobs than it had originally promised.  And now when the company knew that despite all its dirty tricks it could not obtain bauxite, it is banking on these few employees to pressurise the government saying end of bauxite will mean end of employment.  Why should the government be responsible if Vedanta's employees lose their jobs?  Let the company take care of their rehabilitation.  After all it claimed of employment and growth.  

The lesson that people of Odisha must learn from this case is that such industries don't provide long term employment and growth.  They stay here as long as they earn profit.  However, our farm fields and forests provide permanent employment.  We must invest in promoting farming and allied enterprises rather than going for blind mineral extraction and related industries.


Odisha says it cannot supply bauxite to Vedanta Aluminium Limited immediately

BHUBANESWAR: Odisha is not in a position to immediately supply bauxite to Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL), the state government said today while the company had sought permission to shut down its refinery at Lanjigarh due to scarcity of raw material.

"The state government is not ready at the moment to supply bauxite to Vedanta's refinery at Lanjigarh. VAL's case in the matter of bauxite mining is pending in the Supreme Court ... They (VAL) are trying to arrange raw material for the plant," Chief Secretary B K Patnaik told reporters after attending the High Level Clearance Authority (HLCA) meeting.

Though the state has a vast reserve of the mineral, it is not able to explore it due to different reasons including forest clearance and mining plan, he said.
The state government's stand was made known after VAL formally informed the administration to allow it to shut down the refinery from December 5.

When contacted VAL Chief Operating Officer Mukesh Kumar said "We have already informed about our problem to the state government. Now our 1 mtpa refinery plant is running with only 50 per cent of its capacity due to bauxite scarcity."

Kumar said despite the state government's commitment to supply raw material to the refinery, it not given 'even one gram' of bauxite so far.

Under the situation, the company had already incurred Rs 2500 crore loss to run the Lanjigarh refinery and was not in a position to procure bauxite from other sources.

"We have run the plant for five years by bringing in bauxite from states like Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattishgarh and Gujarat ... We get some bauxite from our BALCO mines. And that source is not sufficient," he said.

The VAL COO in his letter requested the state government to help it by providing the raw material for running the refinery plant after December 5.

"If the situation improves by December 5, the company may not shut down the plant."

VAL has so far invested Rs 9,000 crore in the project which employes about 7,000 people, including direct jobs to 3,000 persons, Kumar said.

Though the company had applied for 26 bauxite reserves in the state, nothing was finalised yet due to different reasons, company sources said.

The company required 10,000 ton of bauxite everyday to feed its 1mtpa refinery plant.
-          18 SEP, 2012, 11.32PM IST, PTI

Petitioner against Vedanta condemns company for 'misleading' public

Prafulla Samantara, a petitioner against Vendanta group, on Tuesday condemned the company for allegedly trying to mislead the public and influence the Supreme Court by organising “fake and engineered protests” in Odisha. 

Vedanta Aluminium Limited, a subsidiary of the London Stock Exchange listed multi-billion dollar Vedanta Resources group, had told the Odisha government on September 6 that it wanted to temporarily shut down its alumina refinery in Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district, more than 500 km southwest of Bhubaneswar, within three months due to lack of bauxite.

Following the move by the company, Vedanta staff and some local people held a rally in the district headquarter Bhabanipatna and sent a memorandum to the state government demanding arrangement of bauxite for the company.

“The pro-Vedanta rally in Kalahandi is clearly intended to influence the proceedings of the Supreme Court on Niyamgiri issue that is being fought by state owned Odisha Mining Corporation for Vedanta. This should be taken as a case of interference with the proceedings of a court,” Samantara, convenor of voluntary group Lok Shakti Abhiyan, told reporters in Bhubaneshwar, adding that the company had started a calculated media campaign before sending the shutdown notice to the state government.

Samantara asked the state government to stop playing to “Vedanta tunes”, scrap the alumina plant and declare Niyamgiri a National Biodiversity Heritage Site.

 VAL has not been able to get bauxite from Niyamgiri hill — home to nearly 10,000 endangered Dangria Kond tribals — adjoining the refinery despite an MoU with the state government in 2004.

Since starting operations in 2007, the refinery was sourcing bauxite from Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Gujarat. “We ran the plant at less than 60% of capacity. Initially, the loss was around Rs. 2 crore per day, but now it has risen to Rs. 4 crore a day, taking the accumulated loss so far to Rs. 3,000 crore,” Mukesh Kumar, president and chief operating officer of VAL, had said after sending the shutdown letter to the state government.

-          HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Bhubaneshwar, September 18, 2012


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