Submit :
News                      Photos                     Just In                     Debate Topic                     Latest News                    Articles                    Local News                    Blog Posts                     Pictures                    Reviews                    Recipes                    
Vedanta's new Bauxite wars: The struggle continues
The raw material scarcity and the present crisis that Vedanta is facing has been created by the company itself. It had all the right cards on its side. The State government was eager to please such a large and influential investor. The company had the knowledge of making its way the Indian bureaucratic maze.

But, it did not respect the logical sequence. As anyone with common sense will say, the chain of aluminum production should have started with first securing raw material through mines leases, followed by investments in refinery and the smelting plants.

Mess of its own making

Vedanta, however, started with the attempt to set up smelter plant at Bhurkamunda near Jharsuguda first in the year 1997. At that point of time the clearances for bauxite mining and alumina refining had not been ensured. Then followed the investment in the alumina refinery in Lanjigarh. The company's clout was evident from the fact that the Chief Minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik laid the foundation stone for the plant even before it had got the environmental clearance.

On this occasion, journalists who queried about the bauxite source were sternly told, "We do not need bauxite." All this points to the arrogant assumption that once the smelter plant was put in place, that reason alone would be enough to get clearances for the refinery and mining leases. Vedanta had almost succeeded in its design but for the orders of the Supreme Court of India.

When Vedanta now claims that it has invested over Rs 50,000 crore in Odisha in the smelter plant, thermal power project and the alumina refinery and that it faces an uncertain future on the raw material front, the claims ring hollow.

The Struggle Continues

The recent petition by OMC in the apex court is no less intriguing. It seeks to reconvene the Gram Sabhas in Niyamgiri after three years. What has changed on the ground in the intervening years?

The Dongarias today are facing their toughest battle as they are being harassed in the name of combing operations. Some of them have died in fake encounters. Some are languishing in jails. The arrested ones will be made free but certainly not before the second Gram Sabhas take their decisions.

Prafulla Samantaray of Lok Shakti Abhijan pointed out that the police repression is increasing day by day in Niyamgiri. Innocent tribals who resist Vedanta Company are victimized, killed and kept in jails under false allegations of indulging in Maoist activities.

"When I go to meet tribals and their supporters in towns like Bhawanipatna, Koraput, Rayagada, the company's hired goons and agents create an atmosphere of terror and threaten to attack me physically," says Samantaray.

Maybe the Odisha government and Vedanta are wishing that the tribals will change their decision in favour of mining. But, in case such a thing happens, will it not open a flood gate of appeals in similar cases?

In cases where the local affected people have given their uninformed consent or have been motivated or coerced to allow an industry or a mine? If they seek to reverse the earlier decisions of theirs and close the establishments, how will that be handled?

Despite the finer nuances of the situation, it sends a distressing signal about the state of affairs of industrialisation in Odisha. We can only hope for better sense to prevail.


Also Read - Vedanta's New Bauxite Wars: No Holds Barred

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
Email Id
Verification Code
Email me on reply to my comment
Email me when other CJs comment on this article
Sign in to set your preference
merinews for RTI activists

Not finding what you are looking for? Search here.