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Archive for August 26th, 2010

Vedanta’s Orissa project nixed

Posted by ajadhind on August 26, 2010

source – livemint

After five long years of court hearings, violent public protests, Centre-state wrangling and media coverage, the government denied permission for bauxite mining at Niyamgiri in Orissa, settling the dispute in favour of the tribe that’s indigenous to the area.

Environment minister Jairam Ramesh’s announcement on Tuesday will mean that an integral part of the Orissa Mining Corp. Ltd-Sterlite Industries India Ltd project will have to be scrapped. Sterlite is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vedanta Resources Plc, a London-listed company, which also owns Vedanta Alumina Ltd, operator of the Lanjigarh alumina refinery, which was to have been fed by bauxite from Niyamgiri.

The Orissa government can move the high court or the yet-to-be-established green tribunal.

In 2005, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Orissa and Vedanta to set up the complex, including the alumina refinery and a captive power plant. It also included the supply of 150 million tonnes (mt) of bauxite for Vedanta’s alumina refinery at Lanjigarh, for which the state had identified the Niyamgiri mine as the initial source of the material’s supply to the extent of 78 mt.

“There have been serious violations of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), the Environment Protection Act (EPA) and the Forest Conservation Act (FCA),” Ramesh said. “We have also issued show-cause notices to the company. This is not an emotional decision. There is no prejudice and no politics. This is not because Niyamgiri is sacred (the hill with the bauxite deposits is held sacred by the primitive tribal group known as the Dongria Kondh). This is purely a legal approach.”

According to the firm’s statement released after the decision: “As at 31 March, Vedanta had invested $5.4 billion (`25,272 crore today) in its aluminium projects in Orissa. Around 10,000 people are employed at the Lanjigarh alumina refinery plant. Vedanta is currently operating its alumina refinery with outsourced bauxite.”

The company said the state government is trying to make sure that it can supply bauxite from alternative sources.

“In view of the ongoing delay in approval of the Niyamgiri mining, the government of Orissa is actively considering allocation of alternate source of bauxite to Vedanta’s alumina refinery, from the state of Orissa,” said the statement.

The state government could not be reached.

“In response to the certain allegations raised in the report, Vedanta Resources reconfirms that there has been no regulatory violation of any kind at the alumina refinery,” the statement added.

The company said in a revised statement that it sent out later, “We are not in possession of Niyamgiri mine and no mining activity has been or will be undertaken till all approvals are in place.”

On Tuesday evening, Sterlite lost 3.97% to end at `152.40 on the Bombay Stock Exchange. The key Sensex fell 0.53% to 18,311.59 points. Vedanta closed 7.07% down in London.

The environment ministry has relied on a recent report by former bureaucrat N.C. Saxena, the recommendations of the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) and the attorney general’s opinion, according to Ramesh.

The Saxena report, in its investigation of the implementation of FRA, found that the legitimate claims of the Dongria Kondh have been discouraged and denied without the due process of law, which is illegal on part of the district or sub-divisional committees. The report further said that the Orissa government is not likely to implement FRA in a fair and impartial manner since it has gone to the extent of forwarding false certificates.

Under FRA, rights (individual and community) of tribals and forest dwellers have to be recognized and settled, and consent must be taken from the concerned community before any project can go ahead in the area.

Ramesh, however, clarified that the environment ministry was not taking congnizance of this. “The Saxena committee made a number of observations on state officials. I don’t agree with that and believe that they were acting to the best of their ability. There will not be any witch-hunt,” he said.

The committee report also found serious violations by the company’s alumina refinery in its illegal expansion from 1 million tonne per annum (mtpa) capacity to 6 mtpa. The report said that “this amounts to a serious violation of the provisions of EPA” and “is an expression of the contempt with which the company treats the laws of the land”.

The environment ministry has issued two show-cause notices to the company. One asks it to explain why environment clearance for the 1 mtpa alumina refinery should not be revoked. The second asks why the terms of reference (ToR), which are equivalent to approval for a project, for the environment impact assessment report for the expansion should not be withdrawn. Ramesh added that ToR and the appraisal process for the expansion stand suspended.

“This seems like a full stop for this proposal. But the refinery issue still remains,” said Ritwick Dutta, an environment lawyer. “The pollution problem from their operations still needs to be resolved. We’ve stopped something that was about to happen, but haven’t undone the illegalities already done.”

The panel’s conclusions and recommendations, which were accepted by FAC and forwarded for the final decision, also mention instances of violations under FCA. Mint reported this on 24 August.

The ministry’s note on the factors that have dictated its decision said that the Saxena panel went into great detail highlighting various instances of violations under FCA.

“All these violations, coupled with the resultant impact on the ecology and biodiversity of the surrounding area, further condemn the actions of the project proponent. Not only are these violations of a repeating nature, but they are instances of wilful concealment of information by the project proponent,” it said.

The environment ministry is in the process of examining what penal action should be initiated against the project proponents for the violations. Moreover, the Jharkhand mines from where the refiner is sourcing the bauxite do not appear to have the necessary clearances, the ministry said.

Regarding the other high-profile project awaiting the environment ministry’s approval—the Posco integrated steel plant in Orissa—Ramesh said he has asked the Meena Gupta panel to submit its report by September-end, after which he will consider the case.

Posted in IN NEWS, ORISSA | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Successful NPA ambush in Samar, a legitimate act of war

Posted by ajadhind on August 26, 2010

Information Bureau
Communist Party of the Philippines

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today hailed the successful tactical offensive launched by the New People’s Army in Catarman, Northern Samar last August 21 and at the same time assailed Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles for saying that the Samar ambush “will make the way forward (to peace) more difficult.”

The CPP replied that “the Aquino government should stop making excuses not to resume formal peace negotiations.”

“The Samar ambush, as well as other tactical offensives of the New People’s Army (NPA), have all been carried out with the objective of advancing the struggle for national liberation and social justice, especially in the interest of the oppressed masses,” said the CPP. “All these are being conducted in accordance with international humanitarian law and war conventions.”

“Secretary Deles’ claim that the police unit was just doing law enforcement work is pure hogwash,” said the CPP. “The ambushed police unit was dispatched to a revolutionary base, heavily armed and fully aware of the presence there of the NPA and with the primary objective of attacking the revolutionary forces,” the CPP pointed out.

“The police unit, however, proved to be of no match to their target NPA forces with their revolutionary dedication, full support of the masses, advantage of guerrilla tactics and mastery of terrain,” said the CPP. According to reports issued by the Efren Martirez Command of the New People’s Army (NPA-EMC), its unit in Catarman was able to wipe out the attacking eight-man police unit.

The CPP dismissed claims by the military and police officials that the police personnel were shot one by one “execution style.” “The police unit was immediately crippled with the use of a legitimate command-detonated explosive. The police personnel were called upon to surrender. However, as they insisted on firing their weapons against the NPA fighters, a close quarter battle ensued.”

The NPA unit seized at least seven pistols and four M16 rifles. Reports that personal effects of the police were also taken by the NPA unit are being looked into. “If there were any taken for safekeeping, these items will be accounted for, secured and properly returned to the concerned families,” added the CPP.

The CPP disputed claims by military and security officials of the Aquino regime that the use of command-detonated explosives is prohibited under international rules of war. “Their use is perfectly legitimate under the Geneva Conventions, that serves as the frame for international rules on warfare.”

“The sterling military victory in Samar shows how the people’s war that is raging throughout the country is vibrant, advancing in strides with more and more victories, and bound to win in the end,” The CPP declared.

The revolutionary forces under the leadership of the CPP are presently pursuing a program to achieve, in five years, a leap of the people’s war it is waging, from the present stage of strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate.

Posted in PHILLIPINES, Press Releases | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Report on New York & California protests against Operation Green Hunt

Posted by ajadhind on August 26, 2010

Sanhati, a forum for solidarity with peoples’ struggles in India, successfully organized a protest demonstration in front of the Indian Consulate in NYC on August 13 against Operation Green Hunt to coincide with India’s independence day on 15th August . The protest demonstration was endorsed by the Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia and was attended by individuals from Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas representing diverse South Asian and international organizations like SASI (South Asia Solidarity Initiative), ILPS (International League of Peoples Struggles), ISO (International Socialist Organisation), RCP (Revolutionary Communist Party) USA, FRSO (Freedom Road Socialist Organization), WWP (Workers World Party) and others. A legal observer from the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) was also present during the protest.

The demonstration continued from 11 am to 1pm and was marked by chanting of slogans, distributing pamphlets to passers-by, making speeches in support of peoples’ struggles in India, singing songs of resistance and finally submitting a signed petition registering a strong protest against the government’s military offensive in the regions populated by the indigeneous (adivasi) people. The text of the petition is appended below for reference.

Sanhati Collective


To: Consul General
Consulate General of India
3 East 64th Street
New York, NY 10065

Petition against Operation Green Hunt in India)

Dear Sir/Madam,
We, the undersigned, would like to register our strong protest against the Operation Green Hunt, the Government of India’s (GOI) deliberate move to escalate military intervention against the indigenous people in the forested regions of East-Central India. Such a military campaign already will endanger the lives and livelihoods of millions of the poorest people living in those areas, resulting in massive displacement, destitution and human rights violation of ordinary citizens, especially the indigenous people.
We are acutely aware of the fact that the geographical terrain where the GOI’s military offensive is taking place, is very rich in natural resources like minerals, forest wealth and water, and has been the target of large scale appropriation by several Indian and foreign corporations. The desperate resistance of the local indigenous people against their displacement and dispossession has in many cases prevented the government-backed corporations from making inroads into these areas and has thankfully impeded the setting-up of ecologically disastrous industries. We fear that the government’s on-going military offensive is an attempt to crush such popular resistances in order to facilitate the entry and operation of these corporations and to pave the way for unbridled exploitation of the natural resources and the people of these regions.
We feel that it would deliver a crippling blow to Indian democracy if the government tries to subjugate its own people militarily without addressing their grievances. As has been witnessed in the case of numerous peoples’ struggle around the world, such military campaigns end up in enormous misery for the common people.
Therefore, we demand –
1) An immediate end to the Operation Green Hunt and withdrawal of all armed forces from these regions
2) The GOI should engage with the civil society mediated initiatives for negotiations with representatives of peoples’ movements in order to address the grievances of the common people.
3) All Memoranda of Understanding (MoU-s) signed with different corporations, for the extraction of natural resources from the vast areas of East-Central India, must be revealed and immediately cancelled.
4) All draconian laws like Unlawful Activity (Prevention) Act, Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, Armed Forces Special Powers Act should be immediately repealed. Ban on political organizations should be withdrawn and all political prisoners should be released.
5) All state-assisted vigilante groups like the Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh and Harmad Bahini in West Bengal should be immediately disbanded and the concerned criminals associated with these organizations, including government officials, should be brought to book.

San Francisco, California:

On Friday, August 13, an  action of solidarity with the people in India and  Kashmir–a protest of the Indian government’s “Operation Green Hunt” and the repression of the resistance of Kashmiri people’s struggle–took place at the Indian Consulate in San Francisco.
It was endorsed by the Sanhati Collective, and participants included US and South Asian solidarity activists from the Bay Area and elsewhere. The demonstrators held signs with clear messages:
  • Stop Operation Green Hunt!
  • Stop the War on People in India!
  • Solidarity with the Resistance of Tribal People in India!
  • Support the Just Struggle of the Kashmiri people!
The protestors handed out information about Operation Green Hunt: an Indian government offensive of over 200,000 soldiers directed against the areas populated by tribal peoples in eastern and central India–and why it must be opposed by concerned people around the world.  A number of Indians coming to the Consulate for visas or other business had already  heard about Green Hunt and wanted more information.   This will be the first of many actions and educational events opposing Operation Green Hunt in the Bay Area.

Posted in GREEN HUNT | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

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