Local resident holds her medical records to show how pollution is affecting them
This report comes direct from Mettur, Tamil Nadu, where Vedanta subsidiary MALCO operates a power plant and large red mud dump at the edge of the Stanley reservoir. The red mud dump and power plant have caused misery for the local community, who live practically on top of it, for years, and now MALCO are building a new cooling tower which will make matters worse. Already local people who oppose the plans have been threatened, and a fact finding team was sent to investigate the situation, but was itself attacked by local pro-industry goondas. This is what the local community face every day thanks to Vedanta’s callous approach to profit making.
Team investigating MALCO’s environmental violations attacked by goons in Mettur
Mettur, 5 August 2013: A fact-finding team investigating the alleged environmental violations and high handedness of the officials of MALCO Thermal Plant in Mettur, was attacked by goons today afternoon. The team comprising of Dr. Adithya Pradyumna of SOCHARA, Bangalore, and Kavin Malar, social activist and journalist, was attacked when they came out of the meeting with MALCO public relations officer Mr. Suryaprakash and were on their way to visit the company operated coal yard in Thangamapuripatnam near Mettur Railway Station.
The British Oil Interest in Sri Lanka Phil Miller, 2nd August 2013
Oil and gas are about to gush out of the sea around Sri Lanka. Vedanta Resources Plc, a UK-listed company, are set to profit from this long anticipated prospect through their subsidiary Cairn Lanka Pvt Ltd. Both the Sri Lankan government and Vedanta have their critics. Tamil groups are calling for British Prime Minister David Cameron to boycott the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that is scheduled for November in Colombo, arguing that his attendance will legitimise the Rajapaksa regime’s untold atrocities against their people. Protestors descended on Vedanta’s AGM in London yesterday, highlighting the corporation’s abuse across the Commonwealth, from copper mines in Zambia to the aluminium industry in India: they say it has the worst environmental and human rights record of any company. Despite these campaigns, some poignant questions are yet to be asked. How has a British company with no prior experience in the oil or gas industries, acquired oil fields in Sri Lanka? And what influence will this have on UK politicians visiting the island?
Indian Supreme Court judges today handed the final decision on Vedanta’s Niyamgiri mine to the Dongria Kond tribe and farmers living around the mountain. Two Gram Sabha’s (village councils) or local self-government within 10km of the proposed mine should announce their decision to the Ministry of Environment and Forests within three months1. The decision will have a major financial and reputational impact on Vedanta and may force them to close their Lanjigarh refinery, costing them billions.
In London, activists from Foil Vedanta and other grassroots groups descended on Vedanta’s nominal Mayfair headquarters later today celebrating what they see as a victory for local self-determination, but calling for thorough independent oversight of the decision making process which they say is wide open to abuse by Vedanta officials and state police. They held a loud noise demonstration, and held a banner stating ‘MoEF: No u-turn on Niyamgiri’ while shouting slogans with a large megaphone. The protesters again called for Vedanta to be de-listed from the London Stock Exchange for poor corporate governance and human rights crimes.
See the video of today’s demo here, and another short clip here.
More photos on demotix here.
See video of celebrations on Niyamgiri mountain as the verdict was delivered and an interview with Kumuti Majhi here.
Street vendors hide their faces from the gas leak last weekend
Shops, restaurants, taxi ranks and autorickshaws have shut shop in Thoothkudi, Tamil Nadu, today in a bandh (shutdown) called by members of the Anti-Sterlite People’s Struggle Committee demanding permanent closure of Sterlite’s Copper smelter. According to reports only a few medical shops and others selling essentials remain open, and police have been deployed around the town.
Residents have shut their town in response to last week’s Supreme Court order which allowed Vedanta’s Sterlite plant to continue operating but pay 100 crore rupee ($2 million) compensation for environmental violations including a major gas leak on 23rd March. Residents say there is no price for their health and safety and demand the plant is closed.
Following mass rallies after a major gas leak last weekend Vedanta subsidiary Sterlite’s copper smelter in Tamil Nadu has been closed until further notice. On Tuesday (2nd April) the fate of the plant will be decided once and for all in the Supreme Court. This news note is from Nityanand Jayaraman;
30 March, 2013 — The Tamil Nadu Government has relented to public pressure and shut down Sterlite Industries’ copper complex today. According to a worker, officials from 10 government departments arrived by the vanload in the plant last night at 8 p.m. The management then called a meeting of all staff and workers, and announced that the plant was shutting down. Sterlite requested time till about 12 midnight for phased closure, and this was conceded by the Government. By 1210 a.m. all plants except the smelter were shut down. Electricity connection to the copper complex has been disconnected.
An estimated two thousand people have been arrested today as thousands more arrive in bus loads to demand the immediate shut down of Vedanta subsidiary Sterlite’s Tuticorin copper smelter in Thoothkudi, Tamil Nadu. Shops all over the town were shut, and there were violent attacks from the police as protesters from a large number of workers unions and political parties responded to a major gas leak from the plant which killed one and affected hundreds of people last weekend. The sulhpur dioxide leak was the latest in a long string of lethal incidents and large scale pollution at the plant, which is in the midst of ongoing legal proceedings to establish whether it is operating legally at all.
Thousands of residents of the coastal Tamil Nadu town of Thoothukudi are preparing for mass action tomorrow (28th March) following a major gas leak from Vedanta subsidiary Sterlite’s copper smelting plant at Tuticorin this weekend. On Saturday 23rd March a toxic chemical gas thought to be sulphur dioxide spilled from the plant and caused coughing, burning sensations and suffocation for hundreds of people for kilometers around. Leaves withered on trees in the area. On 25th March a 35 year old Sterlite worker who had been in the factory’s captive power plant at the time of the leak succumbed to the effects of gas exposure and died of suffocation.
In response local political leader Vaiko has called for a mass rally tomorrow at Sterlite’s gates calling for immediate closure of the plant. Demonstrations have already been held at the District Collector’s office and the factory gates.
There have been three hazardous incidents and at least two deaths at Sterlite’s Tuticorin plant this month alone, on top of tens of workers deaths recorded during the plant’s operation. 16 deaths were recorded between 2007 and 2011, though most of these were covered up by police and Sterlite officials and who registered the deaths as suicides.