About 2,000 villagers protested against POSCO‘s planned $12 billion steel plant on Saturday. Women and children formed a human ring around the site. Local opposition has long delayed the South Korean company building its 4 million tonnes plant. It is considered India’s biggest foreign investment project, in Orissa.
POSCO signed the agreement for the mill in 2005 and it was scheduled to begin production by the end of 2011. Protests, environmental concerns and government inquiries into alleged illegalities at a related mining concession have delayed it.
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh gave the plant clearance in January on certain conditions, including ensuring that tribal rights and forest protection laws are observed. He said while giving permission he was against regularization of illegalities but had to. In fact tribal rights protected by Forest Rights Act, and environment concerns are utterly ignored and violated.
Orissa’s government started acquiring land for the world’s No. 3 steel company after the environment ministry’s January approval. POSCO needs 4,000 acres (1,600 hectares) of land. Local officials tried to persuade the villagers to back away and not use women and children as human shields, media said. About 500 policemen were deployed to try to control the protesters, roughly half them women and children.
Article first published as Another Big Blow to India-Focused Vedanta Resources on Technorati.
Here is another big blow from India’s environment ministry to India-focused mining giant Vedanta Resources. The U.K. based company has received a letter that is also posted on environment ministry’s website (that can be found here and here) in which it has been asked to explain for its serious violations of country’s green laws made at Bauxite refinery in Orissa. The ministry asked Vedanta to explain why the environment clearance given to its one million tonnes a year factory in Orissa should not be cancelled. The government of India has recently rejected permission to mine at Niyamgiri hills in Orissa. A government panel has given a report to the government not to permit Vedanta to mine in forest area that would seriously endanger the existence of two tribal groups namely Dongria Kondh and Kutia gondh.
Vedanta is also facing hurdles in its bid to acquire Cairn India for $9.6 billion. ONGC has 30% stake in Cairn India’s Rajasthan oil field due to which Cairn India is subjected to get permission from the federal government in case of change of ownership.
The latest government notice puts Vedanta’s alumina refinery under cloud. The company has plans to expand the refinery’s annual capacity to six million tonnes. Vedanta’s project in Orissa is valued at about $9.5 billion. It is also come to known that the company has not taken permission to increase the capacity of the bauxite refinery. The latest violations were found by an environment ministry inspection team which said, among other breaches, the Vedanta
Reuters | Aug 26, 2010 | 3:28pm IST
In New Delhi, about 15,000 flag-waving, slogan-shouting farmers squatted at a square near parliament after where police stopped them. Traffic in central Delhi remained gridlocked for hours. “Why is the government putting pressure on us to vacate our land? Land is our mother, We will die but not give our land,” said Vinod, a protesting farmer who gave only one name. These protests are the latest in a string of violence over government efforts to acquire farmland for industry in India, where two-thirds of the 1.2 billion population is dependent on agriculture and where land is a farmer’s only social security.
Farmers’ protests have put on hold 230 tax-free export zones and multi-billion investments by ArcelorMittal, South Korea’s POSCO and Tata Steel, according to government figures. Protests over mining on tribal land in Orissa led this week to the government scrapping plans of UK-based Continue reading
South Korean POSCO’s $12 billion steel mill project in India could be cleared soon after a panel investigating a breach of law in acquiring land for the plant submits its report on August 16, a top official said on Monday. Optimism for the project, now delayed by over three years, has risen, given that its progress is being monitored by the prime minister’s office as a test case reflecting the country’s investment climate.
“POSCO is not as big a problem (as some other projects awaiting clearance),” the government official, part of a decision-making process, said. “We expect the 4-member committee’s report to be submitted on August 16 after which a decision will be formally announced,” the official who did not want to be identified, said. Continue reading
The chief minister of Orissa has appealed to the prime minister to allow South Korea’s POSCO(005490.KS) to continue work on a giant iron ore project after the environment ministry ordered a halt. Stopping work at this stage on a proposed $12 billion plant would be counterproductive and affect the investment climate in the country, Naveen Patnaik said in a letter to the prime minister, according to a senior state official, who asked not to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media. POSCO, the world’s third-largest steelmaker, wants to mine iron ore in the Khandadharnear region of Orissa and signed a memorandum of understanding in June 2005 for the plant, which was to be built in three phases by 2016, with production scheduled to begin by the end of 2011 at the completion of the first phase.
But the project, touted as India’s biggest foreign direct investment, has been repeatedly delayed due to protests by farmers who fear losing their land and livelihood. On Friday, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said the state had been directed to stop all work on the project, including land acquisition, as a special committee had found it violated the forest rights act that seeks to protect forest land and settlers. Ramesh, who has scrapped or delayed clearance for some 100 mining projects, wants to protect India’s remaining forest land as part of a strategy to fight climate change. But that could mean giving up mining about a quarter of the country’s mineral reserves. Continue reading