Adivasi Resistance In India Against Aluminium Corporations(ALCAN-HINDALCO)
Since early nineties the spectre of destruction has loomed large in Kashipur and adjoining areas (In Rayagada District in the State of Orissa in southern part of east india) when UAIL(Utkal Alumina India ltd) was formed for the purpose of bauxite mining in the Baphlimali hills and setting up of a factory for processing the bauxite and producing Alumina.The tribal and dalit people in the area began their resistance in 1993 when they came to know about this mining venture.From the knowledge of what happened to the tribal communities in the nearby area of Damanjodi (around 70kms away) they realised that this bauxite mining project will poison and pollute the waters, destroy the hills and nature completely and uproot them and destroy the tribal way of life. This time it was not even a matter of one mining project in the area but of three or more in the sorrounding regions.from different Corporations At that time Indal co and Tata and Norsk Hydro had formed the UAIL. Alcan was the biggest share holder in Indal and the Birla group also held shares in it but now it is fully owned by the Birla business group. For many decades Tata and Birla were the biggest business group in India and even now they are one of the biggest. Norsk Hydro is the third biggest Aluminium Corporation in the world after Alcoa and ALCAN.
Due to the resistance of the local tribal and dalit people UAIL could not start with the construction of the factory for processing bauxite nor could they start the bauxite mining. The Tatas left UAIL in 1998.In 2000 Dec the tribal and also Dalit people in Kashipur under the banner of Prakrut Sampad Suraksha Parishad(PSSP) (Translated it means Natural Resources Protection Organisation) were preparing for road blockade as part of continuing protests against this bauxite mining processing venture. On 15th December at the behest of UAIL the ruling political party with support from other political parties tried to forcibly organize a meeting mostly with outsiders brought in vehicles in support of the bauxite mining at village Maikanch. The people in Maikanch protested vigorously against this,saying that such meetings cannot be held in their villages against their wishes by outsiders. The people drove them out of there. Next day on Dec 16th armed police came there and started firing on the people. All the men were running away into the hills. Women and some young men who remained behind protested and tried to stop the violent police intent on killing.They were beaten up and threatened with death by the police who continued to fire nineteen rounds with the rifles into the hills, wanting to hunt the men down. Three tribal men were shot dead and dozens of people suffered bullet injuries and then the police continued in the next days to terrorize the people. But the undaunted tribal people in their thousands came through the night and converged and blocked the road at Rabkana. The attempt to smash the resistance with mass repression and terror was given a fitting answer. Within a year Norsk Hydro went out of the venture. They faced some pressure possibly from sections of the Church and also from the ecological movement in Norway and they possibly realised that the resistance in Kashipur could not be so easily overcome inspite of repression from the State in India. It was only a small victory for the resistance. Small because,UAIL was restructured.. HINDALCO and ALCAN became now the full stockholders in UAIL The wheels of the machines of death and destruction just would not stop.
In 2004 November the Chief Minister of Orissa in an interview to the press said that no opposition to Industrial development will be tolerated and that those who are opposed to Industrial ventures are criminals and should be taught a lesson. Since December 1st 2004 following this policy the State of Orissa launched a sustained campaign of mass repression and terror in Kashipur. They stationed 800 or more armed paramilitary forces there. On 1st December they started a construction of a barrack for these forces, a new police station and a building for UAIL. All these years the resistance had prevented any construction by UAIL and also police station near Kuchaipadar. Now with this overwhelming apparatus of terror they were able to start this. Old people, children, young people who resisted on 1st December 2004 were beaten cruelly, arrested and put in jail. Since then these forces of terror and death have been marching through the whole area terrorising the people.and forcing them to sign papers that they want the bauxite mining processing venture. In this way the UAIL and the Orissa Government now claim to have the majority support of the local tribal people for the UAIL bauxite mining and processing venture People who try to gather to discuss the situation were threatened, terrorised, beaten, arrested. People there still tried to resist the road widening which is crucial to the monster machines to go through to the hills for opencast bauxite mining and for the transport of massive amount of materials for construction of the processing factory and the transport of the mined bauxite and so on. The UAIL has in this way been able to forcibly push forward this destructive mining venture though to date they have not been actually able to start the mining itself. Also they have still to get a renewal of the Environmental Clearance. The situation in Kashipur is now very critical.and the resisting people there need solidarity to block the ALCAN-HINDALCO bauxite mining and processing venture.In the vicinity of Kashipur and also around hundred kms away atleast three bauxite mining and processing plants are proposed to come up. Some of us have started a campaign here in Germany in solidarity with the resisting tribal people of Kashipur.
Everybody who cares to keep eyes and ears open knows that Bauxite mining like all mining is very destructive to nature and to the life style of the tribal people who live in these areas; not only that one would also know that the mined bauxite ore needs to be converted into Alumina first and this requires a large amount of water and energy. Everywhere whether in Brazil or New Guinea or Jamaica or Australia or Canada the corporations have constructed huge dams and power generation plants causing even more ecological destruction and then they release everyday thousands of tonnes of red mud into the rivers poisoning and polluting them. In the regions where there is lot of bauxite in the earth ,the nature is bountiful with water for those who lived like the tribal people in harmony with nature. But on the other hand after a few years of bauxite mining hills and forests are destroyed forever through the opencast mining, blasting the hills completely; they dont exist anymore and with it vanish the sources of water as well. This does`nt even stop here. Then for the production of Aluminium from Alumina the corporations look for regions where there is massive amounts of energy available. All industrial mining are very destructive to ecology, to the tribal people but the production of Aluminium leaves an even larger trail of destruction and despoliation then some other metals.
I would also like to make some observations here regarding NGO´S, Ecological and Environmental movements. In 2004 ALCAN sponsored a Sustainability Award of One Million US $. In the first year the award was given to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) based in Bonn, Germany. So the question is how come organisations likeFSC accept awards instituted by those forces who are responsible for the accelerated ecological destruction worldwide? Do they not know what bauxite mining means to nature and to the tribal people? Or they dont care? What is their concept of ecological protection? This transformation of a large part of ecological movement into business activities or into corporations is typical of the way this society of death and destruction is reproduced again and again. Is it not time to look at much of self propagated ecological activities?
Aluminium is used for weapons systems including missiles, aerospace industry, mass transportation, for building, for aluminium packaging of food, pharmaceuticals, perfumes etc, etc. In what way is Aluminum useful or necessary? To build A380 or missiles/rockets? For packaging food or keeping it warm! The bauxite proposed to be mined in Kashipur and nearby areas is only for export to Europe/North America.