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India: Mining project by Alcan & Hindalco (Aditya Birla Group) in Orissa - concern over displacement of tribal peoples & other issues

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1 April 2006

[PDF] The Utkal Project: Frequently-asked questions [Orissa, India]

Author: Alcan

Recent events demonstrate that the vast majority of local residents support the Utkal Project...The Utkal Project now also has a fully approved Rehabilitation and Resettlement Package(R&R). Utkal’s commitment is to develop a constructive dialogue and collaborate with any stakeholders acting in good faith...Most of the land associated with the Project is on non-agricultural land where farming capabilities are extremely limited due to the poor quality of the soil and the lack of irrigation...The original and very comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was completed some time ago and received formal approval by the government authorities.

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Company non-response
8 March 2006

Hindalco (part of Aditya Birla Group) did not respond to: Reports in Indian newspapers The Hindu and Tehelka: Residents oppose proposed Utkal bauxite mining & alumina refinery project in Orissa over environmental & displacement concerns.

Company response
3 August 2005

Response by Alcan (now Rio Tinto Alcan): Residents oppose proposed Utkal bauxite mining & alumina refinery project over environmental, displacement concerns.

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2 August 2005

[PDF] [letter from Alcan regarding Utkal Project - Orissa, India]

Author: Daniel Gagnier, Senior Vice President, Corporate & External Affairs, Alcan

In making any business decision, Alcan takes into consideration all of the economic, social and environmental aspects and engages in an open dialogue with all stakeholders...It's Alcan's belief that the Project will proceed whether Alcan is involved or not...in the interest of influencing outcomes, having a Company like Alcan engaged [in the project] is a force for a better outcome.

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24 July 2005

Mines vs People: Sleeping with the Enemy [India]

Author: Minati Dash, Tehelka [India]

...the State has been consistently flouting democratic processes in the tribal areas of Rayageda district in south Orissa in favour of an alumina-mining venture...The project, Utkal Alumina International Limited (UAIL), is based in Kashipur, and it will directly displace 24 villages and affect the livelihood of thousands... Due to ‘popular opinion’ against the project, many of its partners withdrew, including Norsk Hydro (Norway) and Tata. Currently, it’s a joint venture of Hindalco (Aditya Birla group) that has 55 percent stakes and Alcan (Canada) that holds 45 percent stakes in the project. [Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Hindalco (Aditya Birla) to respond to the allegations. Hindalco (Aditya Birla) declined to respond]

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28 April 2005

Alcan Faces Shareholder Ire Over Project Plans

Author: Robert Melnbardis, Reuters

Alcan's 45 percent owned Utkal Alumina International Ltd. project in...India's Orissa state...drew the most persistent commentary and questioning at the annual meeting. Members of "Alcan't in India," a Montreal-based advocacy group, demanded the company withdraw from the $1 billion Utkal project...The project has already been delayed by some seven years because of protests by social groups and about 147 families reluctant to make way for its development...Engen [Travis Engen, Alcan's President & CEO] acknowledged that a number of people have died in India in the dispute over the "very troubled" project. Utkal has to satisfy a number of environmental and financial conditions and address the question of community support before its development can proceed, he said.

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20 April 2005

The battle for bauxite in Orissa [India]

Author: Meena Menon, in The Hindu [India]

For over 10 years, the Paraja and Kondh Adivasis of Kashipur and the surrounding regions of Rayagada district have opposed the bauxite mining project by Utkal Alumina. Consequently, the region has witnessed state terror in all its forms. Non-governmental organisations supporting the Adivasis were blacklisted by the State Government in 1998 for waging a "proxy war" against the State and their funds cut off...The people have warned of an environmental disaster with bauxite mining leading to drying of rivers, deforestation and ecological damage. They are demanding the cancellation of all the agreements with the mining companies. If the Government hopes to pull the Adivasis out of poverty by signing away bauxite leases, past experience in Orissa belies any such hope...human rights have been the first casualty. [refers to Alcan; does not explicitly refer to Hindalco (part of Aditya Birla Group) the other company involved in the project]

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