Press Meet at Lohia Academy Bhubaneswar Dt.18.9.12
Prafulla Samantara, President, Lok Shakti Abhiyan
Stop playing to Vedanta Tune, Scrap Lanjigarh Alumina Plant
Investigate All Vedanta Scams, Initiate Legal and Criminal Action
Declare Niyamgiri National Biodiversity Heritage Spot
The Lok Shakti Abhiyan ( LSA ) condemns in strongest term the Drama that Vedanta is enacting to mislead the public and influence the Apex Court by organizing fake and engineered protests in Lanjigarh and elsewhere. The present situation would not have come if the company had followed standard norms and not misled all authorities. From the beginning itself (Vedanta’s affidavit to CEC on February 16, 2005), instead of applying for the clearances of both mining and plant projects, they applied for separate clearance for the Alumina Plant and did not deliberately apply for clearance for mining with a mischievous intention to blackmail the government to give bauxite mines to the company once it got all clearance for the alumina plant. It had a design to construct the plant first which it did by suppressing all facts just to avoid forest clearances for the plant project. Once it spent money it started blackmailing relevant authorities who apparently had taught the company how to blackmail them. Vedanta overestimated its own evil potential and assumed that just by overfeeding power hungry ruling BJD and other favorably disposed parties and politicians, bureaucrats and police it will overcome the bauxite issue which is fundamental for the plant to sustain.
The LSA would like to stress upon the following facts that:
- Vedanta’s crime of suppressing facts which has been pointed by all most all the committees including that of the Saxena committee could not be forgiven just because it has money to buy any one and influence decision making at any level.
- The supply of bauxite to its illegal alumina plant in Lanjigarh is not the responsibility of the state and the people of Odisha. The plant should have been dismantled long back but because obvious reasons it is continuing till date.
- The entire pro-Vedanta rally happening now in Kalahandi is clearly intended to influence the proceedings of the Apex Court on Niyamgiri issue which has been taken to the Supreme Court for Vedanta by the Odisha Mining Corporation. This should be taken as case of interference with the proceedings of a Court.
- We have reports that Vedanta is making profit in Lanjigarh and it is not running on loss. A loss making company can’t on its own make a contribution of Rs 280 million to political parties ( pl refer to news reports on Vedanta’s confession before its own AGM 2012 in London)
- The company after creating so much crying events has reportedly ordered for 10000 tonnes of bauxites from Andhra Pradesh and Maharasthra. The earlier supply from bauxite sources outside the state got affected because of a MOEF order against illegal bauxite mining. Thus the company so far was depending on smuggled bauxite sources which are an offence.
- The false propaganda that the company is doing with the help of PRO agencies that 22000 people will lose their job, the LSA would like the company to declare their names. Since the company in its own project proposal has admitted that it would employ 1000 people in its 4500 crore project and only half of them may be locals if they have proper qualifications and skill, how could they get the figure of 22000? In fact reliable people working in the plant tell us in confidence that there are hardly 15-20 locals working in the plant who could be called employees.
The human rights violations done by the company, the combing operations launched from Vedanta campus in the past by security forces to terrorize Dongarias, the number of false cases filed against the peace loving tribals, the essential services stopped to the hill-all remain beyond the reach of the public mind. The NHRC has already reported many such violations.
We have the following demands:
- It is time not to sympathize with a violator but to demand scraping of its illegal Alumina plant in Lanjigarh. It should be dismantled immediately and all people engaged as temporary or permanent workers should be compensated immediately.
- Land forcibly taken from people must be restored back with due penalty and public land must be restored back to their pre-Vedanta status.
- The money that Vedanta has spent in last two elections in Odisha should be investigated in to by CBI. We guess it runs in to hundreds of crores -the ruling BJD party being the biggest beneficiary. Not only Vedanta but all its sister concerns, contractors and suppliers’ transactions should also be investigated into to know the truth as these days companies including Vedanta don’t give money directly.
- The Chief Minister should publicly apologize before the people that it had patronized a wrong company for his own/party interest and initiate criminal action against Vedanta.
- The Vedanta tactics to cry and convince the people who matter in judiciary and decision making should be considered as interference in justice delivery system and action should be taken against it.
- Niyamgiri should be declared as a National Biodiversity Heritage Spot and no industrial activity are permitted in areas surrounding Niyamgiri.
- The LSA declares to form a Committee of Experts consisting of people of good standing having rich experiences in biodiversity conservation to study and suggest how best to conserve Niyamgiri in harmony with its natural inhabitants-the Dongarias, Jahranias and their dalit neighbours.