Caterpillar and the mahua flower: tremors in India's mining by Rakesh Kalshian

By Rakesh Kalshian

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Several hundred people have been killed in work accidents at Vedanta’s Lanjigarh refinery and it’s well known locally that labourers are often not paid for their work and have to beg for jobs. Adverse Impact Aluminium is one of the most energy intensive of industries. Refining a metric tonne of alumina requires an average of 250 kilowatt hours (kwh) of electricity, and smelting a tonne of aluminium needs at least 1,300 kwh. The Wuppertal Institute in Germany estimates that the amount of water needed to produce one tonne of aluminium is no less than 1,378 tonnes (for steel, a comparable amount is 44 tonnes of water, also a huge quantity).

When the people demanded a copy of the MoUs under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the answer they obtained was both shocking and surprising: it was stated that a condition in the MoU prevented the government from revealing it to a third party! Even the rival Congress party members — the Bharatiya Janata Party is in power in Chhattisgarh — couldn’t get a copy of the MoUs. The matter reached the Assembly, but when the elected representatives asked for the details, the government did not respond.

Provide us with land and forest. We don’t need the company. Dislodge the company. We have been repeatedly saying this for the past 13 years. ” India is already a highly developed country, and was before European companies ever reached it. Protection of people’s basic rights and protection of the environment for future generations are the hallmarks of a developed CATERPILLAR AND THE MAHUA FLOWER 41 society. Yet, the laws ensuring this protection, which developed in a long and painful process in the 60 years after independence, are being dismantled because of pressure from abroad.

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