Aug 17 2007
Double Death – Aluminium’s Links with Genocide
By Felix Padel and Samarendra Das, Economic and Political Weekly, December 2005
“The evidence we present goes against the conventional history of aluminium, which tends to portray the industry as central to various countries’ economic power and prosperity, without understanding the financial manipulation and exploitation between and within countries, and the true costs.”
Few people understand aluminium’s true form or see its industry as a whole. Hidden from general awareness are its close link with big dams, complex forms of exploitation in the industry’s financial structure, and a destructive impact on indigenous society that amounts to a form of genocide. At the other end of the production line, aluminium’s highest-price forms consist of complex alloys essential to various ’aerospace’/'defence’ applications.1 The metal’s high ’strategic importance’ is due to its status as a key material supplying the arms industry. In these four dimensions ’ environmental, economic, social and military ’ it has some very destructive effects on human life.
The Orissa Government is presently trying to set up a State-wide programme of rapid industrialization based on a vastly increased scale of mining projects ’ primarily bauxite, iron-ore, coal and chromite, along with aluminium refineries and smelters, steel plants, plus coal-fired power stations and hydro-electric dams to power them. The idea is that this will rapidly bring great wealth into the State in the form of Foreign Direct Investment, which will quickly pay off Orissa’s Foreign Debt to the World Bank and other foreign institutions, at the same time as it promotes overall development in a State which has a high level of poverty and records of starvation deaths.
To comprehend the implications, it is instructive to look at back articles in EPW on aluminium. From the 1960s to 1980s, the emphasis was on economics: the huge subsidies in electricity prices and tax-breaks and how these were lobbied for or justified by Government, the decrease in percentage of aluminium reserved for electrical cables to boost rural electrification, problems of labour and power cuts; articles critical of the industry and in its defence (EPW 1967-1980, Kale 1972, Rajagopalam 1981, Subrahmanyam 1982). From Vidhya Das’ first article on Kashipur in 1995, the emphasis shifted to exposing an escalating abuse of human rights in Orissa, which culminated in the police killings of three Adivasis at Maikanch in December 2000, and which is coming to a head again now; against a People’s Movement to try and stop this invasion of their land and resources (Das 1995-2003, Sarangi 2002-5, Bandyopadhyay 2004). The early articles showed little awareness of the human cost to several 100,000 Adivasis uprooted by aluminium plants and the dams which power them. Later articles highlight abuses of power. What is needed is a clear analysis of the political economy of bauxite and aluminium, to comprehend the deeper causes of abuse being perpetrated now in many parts of Orissa.
In this article we present a preliminary overview of this political economy through analyzing each of the four dimensions named above. The evidence we present goes against the conventional history of aluminium, which tends to portray the industry as central to various countries’ economic power and prosperity, without understanding the financial manipulation and exploitation between and within countries, and the true costs.
India’s Aluminium History: Impacts on Society and Environment
When Nalco’s aluminium complex was being set up in Orissa during the early 1980s, Subrahmanyan commented that to understand its effects, one must comprehend ’the past, not very pleasant, history of the Indian aluminium industry’ (EPW 1982). In fact, to realize what lies in store for Orissa if even a few of the planned bauxite and aluminium projects go ahead, it is necessary to understand aluminium’s history in a succession of other countries, which all show similar patterns of lavish promises followed by extreme exploitation (Graham 1982).
In the US and Canada, big dams built from the 1920s-40s to power aluminium factories displaced numerous indigenous communities, and had dire effects on the environment (McCully 1998), alongside intensive pollution from the factories themselves. In Guyana, Suriname, Jamaica, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Guinea, Ghana, Sierra Leone and other countries, these effects on indigenous peoples and nature have generally intensified, often accompanied by a high degree of foreign financial and political control which has completely undermined these countries’ actual economic independence.
Aluminium production has been linked with big dams from the start. From the first wave of big dams built in Europe and north America in the 1900s-1930s to the Three Gorges dams in China, supplying electricity and water to aluminium factories has been a principal reason for their construction (Glitlitz 1993, McCully 1996). This is because smelters consume exceptionally large amounts of electricity. To produce a ton of aluminium a smelter consumes at least 13,500 kwh (kilo-watt hours). It also produces very high emissions of Carbon Dioxide: an average of 13.1 tons per ton of aluminium produced. 2 This electricity is needed to split aluminium from its strong bonding with oxygen. A refinery, which is often located near a bauxite mine to reduce transport costs, produces alumina (aluminium oxide, Al2O3) by refining off alumina’s bonding with iron, silica, and about 40 other mineral elements found in substantial quantities in bauxite. A smelter splits off aluminium’s even stronger bonding with oxygen, by passing a high electric current through dissolved alumina.
India’s first major aluminium company was INDAL (INDian ALuminium). It was set up as a subsidiary of ALCAN (ALuminium CANada), a principal supplier to the UK arms industry as well as to the US, and originally a subsidiary of ALCOA (AL. CO. of America).3 Alcan’s set-up was designed in part to facilitate US control of aluminium cartels centred in Europe (Graham 1982, Holloway 1988). Since the 1990s at least, the aluminium cartel has been directly controlled by the US administration (Stiglitz 2002).
The foundation-stone for the Hirakund dam was laid by Orissa’s last British Governor, and then again by Nehru in 1948. By 1959 it was supplying Alcan/Indal’s Hirakund smelter, whose bauxite was mined and refined in present-day Jharkhand to the north. Irrigation, flood control and hydro-power were given as the dam’s main purposes. This dam displaced at least 160,000 people, over 50% of them Adivasis, as well as a lot of forest and rich cultivated land ’ almost as much land as has been irrigated from the reservoir (Viegas 1992). As for flood-control, flash floods caused by sudden release of the water in Hirakud Reservoir during exceptional rain, in 1980 and during the Cyclone of 1999, killed more people than died in many years of flooding before the dam’s existence.
So hydro-power was the main reason, aimed primarily to supplying factories, both during the 1950s-60s, and in a massive new, DFID-financed expansion about to be implemented right now. Supplying the Hirakud smelter, as a prime customer for a large supply of hydro-power, was almost certainly among the main reasons for its construction, though as in most other cases, this purpose was not made explicit.
Soon after, in the early 1960s, the Rihand dam was built to supply Hindalco’s refinery-smelter complex at Renukoot (Shaktinagar) on the UP-MP border, displacing a comparable population. None of India’s dam projects has kept proper statistics of the people displaced, and none has resettled them adequately. Almost every family of each displaced population suffered a tremendous drop in living standards. The bare estimates of numbers cover a horrendous reality of uprooted communities and human lives reduced to a level of destitution and virtual enslavement. Similar stories surround the Koyna dam in Maharashtra, the Mettur dam in Tamil Nadu, and Korba in Chhattisgarh, which is named after the Korva tribe who were displaced en masse by Balco, and whose Census-recorded population shrank from about 84,000 to 27,000 in 1991-2001.4
Then came NALCO (National AL.CO), ’the pride of Orissa’, one of India’s biggest profit-making PSUs, set up in 1980. An article in EPW in 1981 (Rajagopalam et. al.) gave a range of economic arguments against setting up Nalco ’ in particular the low price for bauxite enforced by external pressures (i.e. the aluminium cartel), plus excessive consumption of electricity, water, etc., and excessive pollution. Damanjodi refinery and the Upper Kolab dam displaced over 50,000 people, Adivasis the majority (Jojo 2002). The rail link between Koraput and Rayagada, built to facilitate Nalco and future aluminium firms, had negative effects on the forest and interior Adivasi villages over a wide area. And Nalco’s smelter at Angul has inflicted serious pollution on thousands of people, killing all the fish in a long stretch of the Nandira and Brahmani rivers, as well as killing people and damaging extensive areas of cultivated land when its toxic waste fly-ash ponds have flooded. 5
Tribal villages all around Nalco’s bauxite mine on the long summit of Panchpat Mali have suffered pollution and lost their land’s former fertility, while over 200 deaths in work accidents at the Damanjodi plant nearby have gone largely unreported and uncompensated, as have deaths from fluoridosis around the Angul smelter, and deaths from industrial pollution among workers in all these plants.6 So Nalco’s high profits come at a huge human and environmental cost that has never been properly calculated ’ part of the subsidies and ’externalities’ of aluminium production we examine below.
When Nalco’s example was emulated by BALCO (Bharat AL.CO), wanting to mine the summit of Gandhamardan, a movement arose to prevent this, representing an alliance of local Adivasis, Dalits, Hindu activists and many others. They came together to save the Gandhamardan Mountain range, which has an exceptional wealth of forest cover, as well as mythical and medieval temple heritage. Balco built a colony for several thousand workers, which is now derelict. The planned bauxite mine on the ridge was finally declared illegal on environmental grounds in 1987, after hundreds of protestors had endured police beatings and arrest, and women had stopped the passage of mining vehicles by laying their children in front of them to maintain the blockade, saying: ’What future do they have if you destroy our Mountain?’
A movement to try and stop construction of the Upper Indravati dam project was less successful – crushed by lathi-charges and mass arrests in April 1992. This project involved building 7 dams, financed through loans from the World Bank. When a WB official was visiting villages nearby in 1993, tribal women told her, ’If we starve, you also bear a responsibility’, and indeed, the worsening poverty in the area surrounding the reservoir now is notorious.7 The cost of construction rose even more than usual during construction, which was also marred by an accident in August 1991 when a tunnel suddenly flooded killing an estimated 200 (mostly tribal) workers. At least 40,000 people from 99 villages were displaced. The reservoir has caused mass deforestation and impoverishment of surrounding communities, which are still without the electricity they were promised (despite hydro-power the project supplies to distant factories), and where people have to cut and sell the remaining forest in order to stave off starvation. Again, this project’s purpose was almost certainly to supply power and water to the aluminium factories presently being planned or implemented. 8
Orissa’s Bauxite Plans
So already, two of India’s six working smelters, and one of its six refineries, are located in Orissa, as well as a string of big dams to give electricity and water to these factories. The present plans for intensive mining of Orissa’s bauxite alongside a complex of big dams, aluminium factories and rail links actually date back to the 1920s. The British geologist Cyril Fox gave an outline for mining bauxite from Karlapat and the other Bauxite-capped mountains, refining and smelting it using Orissa’s hydro-electric sites, transporting it through the Rayagada railway (then under construction), and exporting the product via the harbour being planned at Vishakhapatnam. 9 Fox’s outline actually lays out the whole plan for Orissa’s aluminium industry, as a colonial undertaking involving factories, dams, railways and port, fed by bauxite mines on the main mountains. If the British Raj understood Orissa’s aluminium potential, so too did Hitler, whose airforce used unprecedented quantities of aluminium. Also steel: one of his mineral experts made the highly significant comment (in the light of recent iron/steel projects, particularly that of the Korean giant, Posco) that ’You can rule the whole world if you control the iron ore of Keonjhar’. Hitler got the Japanese to make Orissa a prime target of attack for this reason, which resulted in a few air-raids on Orissa’s ports.10
But the present plan is as colonial as British and German plans were: foreign-based companies’ plans to extract Orissa’s minerals at an unprecedented rate receive support from foreign Governments. Most of the profits will inevitably go abroad, leaving behind a trail of disaster for Orissa’s environment and cultivators. Briefly, Orissa’s new aluminium ’master-plan’ involves:-
1. Utkal Alumina’s planned mine on Bapla Mali (west of Kashipur) and refinery below, near Kucheipadar village (Rayagada District). This has now been delayed for 13 years by the People’s Movement, centred in Kucheipadar and other villages. Utkal was originally a consortium of Indal, Tata, and Norsk Hydro. Tata withdrew after the project faced stiff opposition in the mid-90s. Its place was taken by Alcan, which had an interest anyway through its subsidiary Indal, in which it then had a 54.6% stake. In a little-investigated deal, it sold this controlling share to HINDALCO (HINDustan AL.CO. of Aditya Birla’s group of companies). After the police killings at Maikanch, Norsk withdrew, leaving Alcan and Hindalco. So on the surface, the line-up of companies is completely different now. Yet in effect ’the company’ is still the same, supported in the same ways by the District authorities. Utkal’s high-level foreign backing was evident when the World Bank tried to make it a model scheme of its BPD project (Business Partners for Development), organizing talks in Rayagada in October 2000, which raised the temperature of debate just before the Maikanch police killings. After these killings, Utkal was discreetly withdrawn from the WB’s BPD website without explanation. The Inquiry into Maikanch further delayed Utkal, which is trying to implement its project now. Hence the present campaign of police intimidation.
2. Hindalco’s plan for mining Kodinga Mali (on the SW rim of Kashipur), with a
refinery at Kansariguda village, and an expansion of the Hirakud smelter.
3. Larsen and Toubro’s plans for mining Siji Mali and/or Kuturu Mali (N and NE of
Kashipur) from Sunger (where a movement was active against its plans in the ’90s), plus a refinery near Kalyansingpur, in a joint venture with Dubai Al.Co. (Financial Express 16/12/05) L & T is originally a Danish company, which manufactures arms at several factories in India.
4. Sterlite/Vedanta’s project near Lanjigarh to mine the northwest ridge of the Niyamgiris. Construction of their refinery below is under way, after evicting Adivasis who had agreed to accept compensation. These evictions took place early in 2004. Adivasis in the Lanjigarh area ’ including those who refused compensation, whose villages stand just outside the boundary wall ’ live now under a shadow of tremendous pressure from the company people, contractors and police; as well as a climate of fear, after one leader of their Movement, Sukru Majhi, was run over deliberately on the newly metalled Lanjigarh-Doikal road on 27th March 2005.11 The legality of the Vedanta project, and its impact on the exceptional Forest which covers the lease area, has been questioned on numerous fronts by the Central Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court, who inspected it in Dec.2004 and June 2005 (CEC Report Sept. 2005). The refinery is being constructed by an Australia-based company called Worley, through foreign finance. The Indian company Vedanta Alumina is owned via Sterlite Industries. by Vedanta Resources, which was launched as a UK company on the London Stock Exchange in December 2003, and invested in by several leading European banks (see below). This investment is also funding a huge new smelter complex at Korba, and plans for another smelter near Hirakud.12
5. Khandual Mali near Karlapat (west of Lanjigarh) was under threat: initially from a local company, Sulakshmi Mines and Minerals, aiming to make money through selling the mining rights. An attempted sale to BHPBilliton (the world’s biggest mining company) was declared illegal in 2004, after BHP had already announced its intentions to set up a bauxite mine and refinery in Kalahandi. This Mountain is the one referred to by Fox in the 1920s. Both environmentally and socially it is an area of exceptional importance and sensitivity, and the villagers living on the mountain have made clear their resistance to mining it.
6. Other projects being planned include Gandhamardan again, whose mining rights have been purchased by a Canadian Company called Continental Resources; Mountains in the Kuttia Kond territory, whose bauxite was recently surveyed by Jimpex; and Deo Mali, Koraput’s (and Orissa’s) highest Mountain, which Nalco has designs on. In Chattisgarh, Balco-Sterlite-Vedanta is setting up a bauxite mine at Bodai-Daldali, on a mountain near Kawardha, bordering MP and Kanha National Park, where Baiga tribals have already been displaced.
The Exploitative Nature of the Aluminium Industry
If this account of India’s aluminium industry and the plans for Orissa has stressed the negative features, what are the benefits alleged by those promoting this expansion? Huge profits, with prices soaring through demand from China, and foreign exchange which some Govt. sources claim will pay off Orissa’s huge debt. Plus employment opportunies, and foreign investment to bring wealth to Orissa’s backward districts, and promote all-round development.
The profit in the short-term is not in doubt. But profit for whom? Clearly not for the uprooted Adivasis. The lack of respect being shown to them now in Lanjigarh and Kashipur is an ill omen for their future. They have already met others dispossessed by the Indravati, Kolab and Damanjodi projects, and know that promises of a good ’resettlement package’, ’employment opportunities’ and other benefits are basically a fraud. The employment situation around Damanjodi is very harsh, with fierce competition for work, poor or non-existent compensation for work-related injuries and deaths, etc. It is also highly questionable whether aluminium projects will pay off Orissa’s debts or create further debt. Will it make these ’backward areas’prosperous, or will it increase their poverty?
Aluminium’s history shows that in many ways the industry’s whole economy is based in exploitation: getting a valuable resource very cheap, and selling it dear. The main profits do not go to the Indian or Orissa Government, but to a small elite of Indian and foreign executives and bankers, who have streamlined ways of getting their profits out of India. What Anil Agarwal is doing at Lanjigarh and Kawardha to make profits in London represents a new kind of colonialism, on a bigger scale than the East India Company ever dreamed of, if only because the means of extracting India’s key resources swiftly and permanently, are now at hand. Vedanta’s expansion has been backed by foreign banks, including Barclays, ABNAmro, and Deutsche, as well as ICICI (linked with the US Prudential Bank).
The whole idea of big dams and aluminium factories as a super-boost for a region’s economic development is a dangerous myth. Its paradigm is the US, and it is true that aluminium played an important part in this country’s rise to pre-eminence from the 1930s, though without benefit to the areas where factories were sited, and at great cost to the environment. Aluminium has been at the centre of what Chomsky characterizes as US industrial management by military spending to stave off economic decline (2003 p.39). The history of how other countries were induced to make the aluminium industry central to their economies shows a highly contrasting pattern: after an initial investment phase, of fine promises and intensive construction, the industry promotes external control and economic dependence, which ends up stifling a region’s prosperity altogether.13
The British started large-scale coal and iron-ore mining in north Orissa. But the escalating displacement since Independence ’ at least 3 million indigenous cultivators thrown off their land in Orissa alone, by mines, dams and metal factories ’ is unprecedented. Yet there are certain significant precedents in colonial history: ’the enclosures’, when public land was privatized all over Britain in the 17-19th centuries, Scotland’s ’Highland Clearances’ in the 19th century when huge estates were cleared of ’the clans’ of crofters (subsistence farmers), and the genocide of native Americans and Australians by European colonists. In other words, Orissa is repeating the very pattern of genocide which confronts Europeans and Americans with the most shameful parts of their history. But mining and the metals industry are the central issue now.
Plans for Orissa’s rapid industrialization also involve a huge increase in coal and iron-ore extraction. Posco’s steel project is just one out of 37 current plans for steel plants. ’Kalinganagar’ (Jajpur District), where recent protests by Adivasis unwilling to be displaced were met with ferocious police suppression, involves plans for a vast industrial park. And every day, several thousand trucks carry iron-ore from north Orissa to Paradeep for export. The northern districts of Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj, Sundargarh, Jharsaguda and Jajpur have already faced mass displacement and deforestation, as well as pollution, from iron and coal mining. Over 40 sponge-iron factories (which process iron-ore into iron for the steel plants) in Keonjhar alone are particularly polluting.14
The main conventional costs of aluminium production include electricity, water, coal, caustic soda, transportation and labour. Everywhere an aluminium industry sets up, it receives hefty subsidies in these areas. In Orissa, the al.cos are getting each one cheap through direct and indirect subsidies, and legislation safeguarding the environment and labour rights has recently been weakened.
It has long been recognized that al.cos can only make a profit by being heavily subsidized. This is rarely spelt out publicly, though well documented in Government and academic studies of the industry (including several articles in EPW). What this means is that the aluminium prices that fluctuate every day in the London Metal Exchange are actually considerably lower than the real cost of producing the metal ’ and far lower than the real cost when the actual effects, or ’externalities’, of production are taken into account.
It seems that the last published Govt. document that was reasonably open about aluminium finance was Dewey Anderson’s Aluminum for Defence and Prosperity published by the US Administration in 1951. This was during the Korean war, when the military demand for aluminium was soaring. Anderson argued that the US must stockpile much more aluminium for war, particularly for its air-force; that the cost to the US economy and environment was too high to produce more within the country; and that more should be imported from Alcan, which was then constructing a huge new smelter on Canada’s west coast, fed by bauxite/alumina from third world sources. This document is thus a blueprint for exploitation of third world resources.
Anderson’s comments apply as much to Orissa today as they did in the US 50 years: ’Aluminum reduction is no great maker of employment, uses little skilled labor, and adds little to the independent development of an area.’ Electricity should be used more wisely ’than allowing aluminum metal manufacture to consume it all with such relatively small return in community advancement.’ And the nation’s natural resources should not be wasted: ’the US cannot any longer afford to make aluminum if it can be obtained in large enough quantities and on favourable price terms from other sources.’ 15
In other words, since the second world war, a key starategic aim of the US has been to acquire a large and regular supply of bauxite/aluminium as cheaply as possible from 3rd world countries. US aluminium production more than tripled between 1948 and 1958, ushering in a ’golden new age’ for America’s al.co.s.16
If the al.cos (aluminium companies) get electricity, water and labour super-cheap in Orissa, even more so the basic raw material itself. Bauxite has no fixed price. The current trend is to pay a royalty for its extraction to the Indian Government, which is fixed at approximately 0.35% of the LME price per ton of finished metal. The IBA (International Bauxite Association), a producers’ cartel of bauxite-exporting countries, managed to double the price they were getting for bauxite in the early 1970s, under the leadership of Michael Manley in Jamaica, whose Government faced a campaign of severe destablisation by CIA operations as a result (Blum 2003 p. 263), and this success has never been repeated.
As the al.cos themselves put this, getting a cheap source of bauxite is their ’starting point of value creation’.17 As it is refined, smelted, and fabricated, each stage of production ups the profit margin. But the highest profits are made further along the line, in the sophisticated alloys and Metal Matrix Composites demanded by Defence. This ’strategic importance’ is a key reason Abdul Kalam gives for expanding India’s aluminium industry, outlined in his book with Y.S.Rajan, India 2020: a vision for the new millenium (1998).
Aluminium’s history in the 3rd world needs to be understood in this context. Al.cos come into a region advertising huge economic benefits in employment and for boosting the local economy. As Anderson says frankly in 1951, and subsequent analysis confirms (e.g. Graham 1982), these benefits do not materialize. This is clear from examining the extent of subsidy in materials alone; but also from the economic cost which Govt. institutions are beginning to attach to pollution. A recent British Govt. report costs carbon emissions at $56-223 per ton of CO2. At an average of 13 tons of CO2 emissions per ton of aluminium (above) this should add at least $700 to the cost of aluminium. But of all sectors of the economy, metal production has by far the highest ratio of carbon emissions to profits, because of markets’ historic inability to internalize pollution costs in commodity prices.18 So carbon emissions are factored out of the Cost-Benefit analysis, as an ’externality’. The same with other emissions and effluents, including sulphur dioxide, fluoride and HFCs, Spent Pot Lining, and Toxic Red Mud, which invariably pollutes the ground-water near a refinery. In the Lanjigarh case the Red Mud Pond is actually planned right beside the source of the Bamsadhara River, below Niyamgiri.19
Since these damaging effects are classed as ’externalities’, they are not included in the cost of production, and it is not the companies that pay these costs: they fall on the host country and the local people. The high cost of subsidising India’s aluminium industry was recognized in India’s Bureau of Industrial Costs and Prices Report in 1988, especially in terms of the highly subsidies for their electricity. The BICP actually recommended trying to reduce aluminium consumption ’ a recommendation aggressively reversed by the New Mineral Policy introduced in 1993.
As for aluminium’s supposed status as a ’green metal’ because of its high rate of recycling: it is actually a very small proportion that is recycled, and recycling has no discernible dampening effect on bauxite mining and the huge rise in output of new aluminium. Raising the proportion of aluminium used in cars in India from 10 to 20 kg may (or may not) save 20% of fuel costs, but the high cost of greenhouse gases emitted in smelting aluminium alone destroys any environmental benefit.20 So contrary to al.co propaganda, aluminium is the ungreenest of materials, and its present expansion is a model of unsustainability.
FDI and the Corporate Takeover of Orissa
The new wave of mining projects planned for Orissa, starting with Utkal, Vedanta and Posco, represent huge injections of Foreign Direct Investment. Since the new National Mineral Policy brought in while Manmohan Singh was Finance Minister in 1993, the share of mining ventures that can be owned by foreign companies has risen from 26% to 74%, and lobbyists are trying to get this raised to 100%. This is one way that profits from these projects are streamlined now for taking out of India. Foreign Banks which have invested in Vedanta and other joint ventures, are becoming right now the effective owners of some of Orissa’s richest mineral deposits, with a view to rapid extraction, and minimal checks on the consequences for the environment and local people.
It is well known that the main profits from FDI really go abroad (Woodward 2001), and in mining, the foreign companies are actually gaining control of India’s most precious resources: its mineral deposits and flowing water. In other sectors such as electricity and telecommunications, foreign companies such as Enron have pulled off notorious scams in India, and the evasion of responsibility for the Bhopal disaster by Union Carbide/Dow Chemicals shows the kind of dangers which foreign companies pose. But with mining companies the danger and exploitation is at an altogether different level, since minerals are a finite, non-renewable resource as well as, in effect, ’the starting point of value-creation’ in world finance. From bauxite’s natural placing in the earth it ensures the land’s fertility. Damage from mining the bauxite cappings on south Orissa’s greatest mountains is irreversible, both for nature and for indigenous communities.
The role of the World Bank needs close examination here. Orissa’s foreign debt is one of the largest, with the highest Debt to GSDP ratio of any State. 46% of GSDP goes in interest payments alone. For the financial year of 1999-2000 the Orissa Govt.’s loan receipt was Rs.3,690.40 crore, while its debt repayment totalled Rs.3,068.43 crore. These are basic facts behind current plans for Orissa’s Fiscal Reforms. 21
But loans from the WB come with a hidden list of ’conditionalities’, which typically involve the removal of legislation that restricts foreign companies’ entry into the Indian market. The market reforms that started in Orissa with privatizing the power sector in the mid-90s, were basically orchestrated through the WB. Those reforms paved the way for the current series of deals that puts Orissa’s best mineral deposits under the financial control, and in effect the ownership, of foreign companies and banks.22
This explains why the World Bank rejected key conclusions of its own Extractive Industries Reviewi in 2004, which had shown that WB involvement in mining was having disastrous effects and should be phased out.23 Hence the significance of the WB’s hushed-up involvement at Rayagada in October 2000.
Looking at Orissa’s foreign loans as a whole, the WB has been the main lender, and played a key role in arranging loans from other Banks too. These loans financed the first phase of Orissa’s industrialisation, including the Upper Indravati reservoir. This has already silted up so badly that two of the project’s four turbines are not working ’ a design fault whose cost has to be borne by Orissa, not the Japanese engineers of Mitsubishi who constructed it. By getting Orissa so deeply in debt, the WB has effectively put it in a position where the Government has no choice but to open its doors to foreign companies and sell them its mineral assets (or has been persuaded of this by its foreign creditors). Getting Orissa into such un-repayable debt, while financing projects like Upper Indravati that will assist future mining projects, has functioned as part of an over-all plan for foreign companies to get hold of Orissa’s minerals at the cheapest cost.
George Monbiot’s Captive state: the corporate takeover of Britain (2000) shows how Corporations have gained huge power and wealth at the expense of local Government throughout the UK. Similar studies have analyzed this situation in the US, including the series of scams which Enron practised to make huge profits in the power sector, tripling costs for consumers in California etc. The way this corporate takeover is being orchestrated in Orissa follows the same pattern.
But in India it has another significance too. In certain precise ways, it is very similar to the manipulations of finance and law through which the East India Company swiftly assumed the attributes of India’s Government in the 18th century. The villagers in Kucheipadar, surrounded by police and company intimidation, have a clear understanding of this. ’The company’ which has invaded their land and lives so destructively is repeating history. It behaves in the same colonial, even genocidal manner which brought the East India Company to power: a Government of India dedicated to the aim of making quick profits, whose greater part goes abroad, by exploiting India’s resources as swiftly and fully as posssible. Collecting revenue gave today’s District Collector his title. Given the repressive implementation of these projects through mass police deployment and alleged harassment, the corporate nature of the GoI which British rule established is apparently being reasserted.
The EIC was one of the world’s first Companies. Today’s companies merge into each other through complex patterns of mutual share-ownership etc. Their mandate subordinates every other value to one main aim: creating maximum profit for their investors, and in effect, for their top executives. Companies’ expert ’caring’ image is a carefully manipulated mask (Bakan 2004). They merge into Banks, and into Government too via ’revolving doors’. Company Directors control the present US administration ’and most other Governments – as never before. So when Adivasis in Orissa oppose ’the Company’, they are opposing a takeover of India’s soil by foreign capital, in a form that in many ways is a direct reincarnation of ’the Company’ that forced India under British rule.
The aluminium companies form a cartel, controlled by key financial institutions, particularly from Washington and London.24 As with mining enclaves all over the third world, the Orissa Govt. has been made lavish promises of rapid wealth creation by foreign companies and Govts. Will the promises be believed yet again, and the people’s interests sold out? Or will the Government listen to the people and debate the merits of its policy and deals openly?
India’s mineral deposits are starting to come under a kind of foreign control that will not be easy to limit. This is the significance of the wave of protest currently sweeping across Orissa: You’re our Government! Don’t let this happen! An increasing number of people are now aware that Indian companies have the backing of foreign companies and banks as well as foreign Govts. (whose arms manufacturers depend on a constant supply of metals at the cheapest possible rate), and that these institutions have been manipulating the rules and technologies to ensure that the main profit leaves Orissa. As for what remains behind in Orissa, the people it brings most affluence to can be seen as a professional elite who serve company interests.
Aluminium for Arms
The world’s most lucrative and powerful companies are those producing arms in ’defence’ or ’aerospace’, and these are the al.cos’ highest-paying customers. The whole history of mining and metal technology is connected closely with the history of weaponry, which has motivated and funded inventions since the Bronze and Iron Ages. The industrial revolution led to a huge arms build up during the first half of the 20th century, which was among the causes of the two world wars.
‘War was good to Alcoa’, and all the al.cos flourished during the two world wars, when about 90% of aluminium went into military uses.25 In the 1920s, lobbyists for arms companies scuppered a League of Nations motion to ban the selling of arms for private (company) profit. At that time there was a widespread understanding that arms companies were a prime cause of wars (Sampson 1977). Where is this understanding now?
Aluminium’s ’strategic’ value to the arms companies ’ to America’s ’permanent war industry’ in particular, which Eisenhower called its ’military-industrial complex’ ’ is obviously a key reason that the real costs of producing aluminium are hidden and transferred as we have indicated. Britain too, while closing down most of its manufacturing industries during the Thatcher era, kept ’aerospace’ or ’defence’ as a cornerstone of its economy, as the most lucrative and ’strategic’ sector.26
One reason for aluminium’s strategic value is thermite, a little-known invention at the dawn of the 20th century in 1901, that virtually defined the violent course of the 20th century. While smelters require huge supplies of electricity in order to split aluminium from its bonding with oxygen in molecules of aluminium oxide, thermite reverses this process: a bomb is packed with iron oxide and aluminium powder. When the fuse ignites, the aluminium leaps to the high temperature of its ’heat of formation’ to re-bond with oxygen, making the explosion huge. This was the basis of the first world war hand grenades, second world war incendiary bombs and napalm, and the ’daisy cutters’ used by American planes for ’carpet bombing’from the Korean and Vietnam wars to Iraq. Aluminium is also basic to the technology of nuclear missiles.
Anderson’s words in 1951 (p.1-5) remain true today: the aluminium industry is ’at the very core of the military-industry complex’ Aluminum has become the most important single bulk material of modern warfare. No fighting is possible, and no war can be carried to a successful conclusion today, without using and destroying vast quantities of aluminum’ Aluminum makes fighter and transport planes possible. Aluminum is needed in atomic weapons, both in their manufacture and in their delivery’ Aluminum, and great quantities of it, spell the difference between victory and defeat”
Although the aluminium percentage in war-planes has diminished, the complexity of aluminium alloys used has increased, alongside a new range of composite fabrics blending oil or plastics with aluminium. These alloys and composites are crucial for aircraft, missile technology, and satellites, as well as war-ships and tanks. 27 Kalam and Rajan base their argument for India expanding its aluminium industry on the strategic importance and the high cost of this technology (1998). In other words, military might is a driving force and key source of profit behind aluminium production, now as much as before.
Balco supplied aluminium to India’s nuclear weapons program. 28 Alcan has long supplied the UK weapons industry. 29 Vedanta has received clear financial and British Govt. backing from London. 30 One wonders whether the supply it offers of cheap aluminium from Orissa may have been planned for years?
Graham gave the percentage of aluminium used in the arms industry at around 30% (1982 p.250). Lists of aluminium consumption by sector miss out arms manufacture now, and when ’defence’ or ’aerospace’ is given it does not rise above 4%. If this is correct, it is still substantial, since it represents aluminium’s most complex and highly-priced alloys. However, we believe the figures have been considerably ’massaged’through listing many defence applications under ’auto’, ’construction’ etc., and not taking account of stockpiling. The US started its aluminium stockpile in 1950, and the Defence Production Act of 1959 prioritized this and classed aluminium as one of 4 ’controlled metals’ for defence. The stockpile reached nearly 2 million tons in 1963, and was again prioritized in the first year of Reagan’s administration in 1980, and since.
How much aluminium is being consumed and destroyed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars? What kinds of profits are these wars bringing to the al.cos as well as arms companies? The faster the military hardware is consumed, the bigger their trade. War is still probably the al.cos’ best business, although the contracts and statistics proving this have long been hard to access.
But alongside these military uses, and in effect subsidized by them, is the increasing ’consumption’ of aluminium in other industries: especially in building construction, car manufacture, and packaging. India is portrayed as backward because its average annual aluminium consumption per head is less than 1 kilo, while ’developed’ countries average at least 20 kilos – an unsustainable wasting of precious natural resources which we have all unwittingly become part of.
The Human Cost
The biggest ’externality’ kept out of aluminium’s price is the human cost. Mining history in third world countries has always involved a tussle between foreign-controlled companies and the national Governments whose resources are being extracted – a tussle the foreign companies have always won, because they have the close backing of their foreign Governments, each promoting its own economy, and foreign Banks. When Cheddi Jagan in Guyana, Nkruma in Ghana and Michael Manley in Jamaica tried for a little more Government control over the foreign-controlled aluminium industry which dominated their finances, the WB immediately withdrew loans, or threatened to, and their Governments went back to servicing US and British economic interests (Graham 1982).
But in this tussle for profits out of mining, what gets left completely out of the picture is the interests of the indigenous people. They get virtually nothing. Only the tiniest percentage of outlay or profits goes on even attempting to compensate them for their dislocation. At first, the company and Govt. authorities say the indigenous people will benefit and raise their standard of living by ’getting developed’. When the people concerned point out their standard of living and quality of life has fallen drastically, a different justification is given: these ’backward’ people must pay ’the price of progress’ ’ a ’sacrifice’ for the nation’s development as a whole.
This is why Adivasis, and those who know them, say these projects are not development at all, but its opposite ’ a destruction of everything their culture values: land, forest, mountains, flowing water, and the freedom to make their own decisions. Protestors against these projects are often labelled ’anti-development’. But for local communities the industrial projects themselves are anti-development, in the sense of lowering their standard of living.31
Government officials in the areas of Orissa affected by rapid industrialization plans, when asked why they don’t give Adivasis proper development in the form of schools, hospitals etc, now often reply: ’the company will give this to you’: ’Utkal debo’, ’Vedanta debo’. This puts people’s vital services at the whim of unelected officials of the very companies that are dispossessing them, which then advertise their ’charity’ through claims of ’Corporate Social Responsibility’.
The human cost behind the bland bureaucratic term ’development-induced displacement’ is beyond calculation. All the big ’development’ projects mentioned have displaced thousands of Adivasis, and invariably lowered their standard of living.to an extreme degree. As Kishen Pattnayak put this: ’The first step of mining is displacement. In Orissa there is not a single successful story of rehabilitation by the government of displaced families, who otherwise have been surviving on the natural resources of the area by living peacefully since hundreds of years on their own land.’ 32
The social structure of tribal society is inevitably fractured by displacement, as numerous studies have shown. Adivasis know that what is at stake is nothing less than their continued existence as a culture. They live in close-knit communities. Their social values are centred on their relationship with their land and natural environment, and in being self-sufficient for most of their needs by their own labour: for food, building their own houses, etc. To call them ’poor’ is correct only when the system of exploitation imposed on them by trader-moneylenders is already taking away a large part of the food they grow. Where they are still largely self-sufficient and control their own land ’ as in Kucheipadar, and in villages displaced by the Narmada dams ’ they do not see themselves as poor. 33
The same with moral values: ’We’re all saints here’ as an elder said to us in a Kond village in Kandhamal District, meaning that everyone in a tribal community lives without excess or wastage, and without trying to accumulate surplus wealth: without the cruel ’competition’ that non-tribal society promotes at every level. As true Gandhians, in other words! They see outside society as degenerate and corrupt in the extreme. In particular, they see that projects for their own ’tribal development’ have been riddled with corruption, in the hands of non-tribal contractors and officials whose main concern is creaming off their own ’PerCent’(P.Sainath 1996). What has been imposed on them already ’in the name of development’ is cultural genocide. What right has non-tribal society to speak of ’developing them’? Shouldn’t they be developing us, and teaching us the principles of how to live sustainably?
Yet instead of giving tribal culture the respect it deserves, mainstream society still tends to denigrate it, perceiving it through negative stereotypes ’ ’primitive’, ’backward’, ’ignorant’, ’uneducated’, ’superstitious’, ’lazy’ etc ’ which actually turn the truth on its head.
The word ’sustainable’ sustains considerable abuse nowadays. Almost the only lifestyle that could be defined as really sustainable ’ over a period of over 2,000 years since Ashoka’s time for instance ’ is one based on communities sustaining themselves through growing their own food, and a strong social structure. Sustainability, in this strict sense, is the essence of Adivasi society. It has sustained itself for centuries through knowledge of appropriate techniques of cultivation and collecting forest produce, not taking too much from nature, and wasting virtually nothing. Present use of terms such as ’sustainable development’ and ’sustainable mining’ are basically a lie. ’Sustainable’ has been narrowed to mean basically ’profitable’ over a period of up to about 20 years. What about the next 2,000?
This phrase ’sustainable mining’ began to be used from 1999, when the world’s 10 biggest mining companies met to launch a project they called ’Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development’ (MMSD, part of their Global Mining Initiative), to see how the mining industry could ’contribute to the global transition to sustainable development’. The long-term vision ’ how to plan to live sustainably in the long term – is completely absent from the corporate perspective. There is a pervasive blindness to the fact that our limited resources are being permanently destroyed for the sake of short-term gain ’ that ’current forms of extraction, and the trend for ever-increasing extraction and consumption of mineral products is totally unsustainable” (Evans 2002)
The main tribe involved in the Orissa Movement, living all around Orissa’s bauxite mountains, are the Konds. Their name for themselves is Kuwinga, and they are almost certainly the same people as the Kalinga who fought so hard for their independence against Ashoka’s conquest, over 2,000 years ago. The bauxite lies in a layer about a hundred feet thick on top of these 4,000 foot mountains, whose parent rock was named Khondalite by British geologists, since these mountains form the heartland of ’Khond’ territory. They also happen to be central to Kond religion and identity. Gopinath Mohanty, in his autobiography, gives a revealing account of a Census official describing to him how some Konds, when asked their religion, replied simply, ’Pahar’ (Mountains). The official found this answer absurd, but it actually shows a profound understanding: these bauxite-capped Mountains support abundant plant-life over a wide area, through hundreds of stream that form on their sides. The forest cover, especially when it exists all over a mountain, as with Niyamgiri and Gandhamardan, but also when it is reduced to a small curtain around the rim of the summit, as on Bapla Mali and the other ’deforested’ mountains, holds the soil together for these streams to form. The bauxite itself acts as a sponge. It formed here over a period of at least 3 million years, through an annual weathering pattern of alternate rain and sun. Its porous quality makes bauxite ideal for holding the monsoon rain-water over the coming months of the hot season, releasing it slowly through the streams throughout the year, enriched with life-giving trace elements of all the minerals which bauxite is rich in. This is why an abundance of bauxite is probably the main factor in the growth of the world’s best tropical and sub-tropical forests, from Orissa to Brazil, north and west Australia, and many other areas.
In other words, Orissa’s mineral wealth, certainly in the case of bauxite, is its famed fertility in cultivated land and forest life. Take away the bauxite cappings of these mountains, and Orissa starts to become a desert ’ a process already visible around Panchpat Mali in Koraput district. For when bauxite is mined out, the mud that is left exposed laterizes and hardens: its previous life-giving properties of storing water etc go into reverse.
So the human cost is not only the sacrifice of Adivasi society: it’s the sacrifice of future generations of countless Oriyas yet to be born. What kind of planning destroys all of this for ever for a few years’ profit riding the world’s currency markets?
By contrast, Konds viewing their mountains as Devata ’ what could be
more realistic and logical? They understand that the mountains give life, in a way that company engineers and certain politicians apparently do not. Even referring to the minerals in these mountains as ’resources’to be ’utilized’ brings an ideological distortion. For those living near these mountains, they are not ’resources’ but quite simply the sources of life.
This is why ’genocide’ is an appropriate term for what is happening to Adivasis: a slow death. Not literally the physical death of every individual, as happened in the paradigm case of most of America’s or Australia’s tribes. But a psychic death: technically, ’ethnicide’ - the killing-off of cultures. Without their culture, seeing the sudden confiscation of the land where their ancestors lived and the collapse of their communities, no longer able to grow their own food and forced to eke a living through exhausting and degrading coolie work for the very projects which destroyed their homes, Orissa’s displaced Adivasis exist in a living death, witnessing the extermination of all they have valued.
In terms of social anthropology, industrial projects imposed on a tribal area destroy the cohesive social structure of tribal society. They are dispossessed of the land that is central to their self-sufficient economy and production of food, as well as to their identity, and many shift closer towards a class of landless labourers. The factories, from the moment their construction starts, generally cause a considerable degrading of their remaining cultivated land through pollution and desiccation. Their religion and moral values receive a shock at the disrespect shown by company and Govt. people towards their mountains, forest and water-sources ’ as well as to themselves. In terms of kinship and the structure of social relations through kin groups, communities are torn apart when they are resettled, as well as from the variable, divisive treatment they receive from ’the company’. Mining companies have a strong tendency to divide people against each other. They bring a new spirit of competitiveness, and hierarchy into what have been markedly egalitarian societies. Those who hold out against company interests tend to get poorer, while those who serve its interests get chances for quick wealth. In other words, a corruption of values sets in, which goes hand in hand with mass poverty, prostitution and the break up of families, and an assault on everything in their social as well as natural environment which traditionally they valued.34
This is why the 5th Schedule of India’s Constitution made it a duty of the Indian Govt. to uphold tribal people’s rights to their land, and even when a ’development project of national importance’ has been determined upon, to consult with communities and compensate them properly. 35 This has not happened, as Kishen Pattnayak pointed out, in even a single case.
The movement to stop mining companies invading and taking over large tracts of Orissa should be understood therefore as a vital expression of civil society against forced dispossession. Like similar movements against excessive industrialization throughout central India, it remains basically non-violent, despite facing extensive violence from police and company thugs. While the majority of those active in the movement are Adivasis, because they have the most to lose, and the very roots of their culture and way of life are threatened, large numbers of Dalits and other non-tribals are with them. It is instructive to witness how this broad coalition has been misrepresented by propaganda from certain elements in the Government and media, which at times even implies that the activists are Naxalites.
Adivasis live under a system of habitual exploitation. Legal redress
is limited, since many police and lawyers collude in this system and cream off a major share. Naxalites or Maoists offer an attractive alternative to people who have suffered years of exploitation and humiliation, even though Naxalite/Maoist power structures are sometimes as hierarchical and disrespectful of people’s sustainable lifestyle and traditional values as mainstream society. Like companies, they represent an arbitrary, unaccountable power. They also invite police retaliation. In a sense, if violent repression of the non-violent movements against industrial projects drives displaced people to follow the Naxalite-Maoist path, this makes it easier for repressive elements in the State Govts. to attack them with violence. Even now they sometimes label supporters of this movement as Naxalites to justify attacking them. Police brutality can even be seen as a strategy to drive what are essentially non-violent movements into a more violent path.
One of the harshest effects on society whenever a mining company enters an indigenous area is to split it into those for and against the enterprise. This is abundantly clear in Orissa now, where pro-mining towns-people have turned violently against villagers who still live from the land, non-tribals against tribals: a splitting tendency that reaches into tribal society too. It is also evident in the Movement itself, where the role of NGOs is a particularly divisive issue – evident in the EPW articles by Vidhya Das and Deboranjan Sarangi, whose differences on this issue, and the question of NGOs’ funding from foreign Governments and institutions with corporate links, have divided people who are essentially on the same side. Questions of foreign funding and accountability of NGOs are vital issues for discussion.
Yet what makes this Movement so strong is that people from many different walks of life and interest have come together and taken great risks to defend Orissa’s tribal culture and environment. Dividing the opposition is a classic tactic of corporate power, especially when the present Orissa Government has issued stern warnings that opposition to its programme of rapid industrialisation will not be tolerated ’ even though, as we have seen, for Adivasis and their standard of living, this programme is itself anti-development. In the Orissa Assembly on 4th Dec. 2004 Naveen Pattnaik stated (as shown on TV News):
‘No-one ’ I repeat no-one ’ will be allowed to stand in the way of Orissa’s industrial development and the people’s progress.’
But who defines the people’s progress?
The ’enemy’ exploiting India’s resources and oppressing the people now is still in a very real sense foreign financial control, but this is not as visible as when the British ruled India directly. And behind the foreign companies and financial institutions is a foreign system of relating and valuing, which comes down to a single aim: maximizing profit. The company, as it evolved in the US under the ’robber barons’ such as Rockefeller and J.P.Morgan, exists purely to make a profit. Effects of its actions on people are considered irrelevant. It represents a totally hierarchical, unaccountable form of power, with no long-term safeguards.36 One significant contrast in the Indian context is the ancient example of the Arthashastra, which emphasized the creation of wealth through mining, but insisted that the State should own and control all important mines and not allow them to get into private hands.
India’s aluminium output is increasingly for export, servicing foreign demands. The Environment Secretary T.N.Seshan declared in 1987 that Nalco’s mine on Panchpat Mali could provide all of India’s aluminium needs for the next 100 years: if India’s natural resources are to be used and conserved properly, no more bauxite mines should be opened now. The contrast to this view is represented in Kalam and Rajan’s book (1998), and the present lobbies pushing for a new phase of Orissa’s rapid industrialization, which view it as a source for India as a nation to become richer and stronger in relation to China and other countries. But stronger in what sense? Is India repeating the colonial powers’ history of repression and over-exploitation in treatment of indigenous minorities and over-exploitation of nature? What ends are justified through these means?
As the President of India K.R.Narayanan said on Republic Day 25th January 2001, alluding to the Maikanch police killings 5 weeks before:
‘The mining that is taking place in the forest areas is threatening the livelihood and survival of many tribes…. Let it not be said by future generations that the Indian Republic has been built on the destruction of the green earth and the innocent tribals who have been living there for centuries….’
1. Abdul Kalam and Y.S.Rajan emphasize the crucial importance of these aluminium alloys for India’s defence industry in their influential book (1998), which gives their vision for India in the new millennium.
2. It has been estimated that producing a ton of aluminium gives off emissions of 5.6 tons of CO2 if the smelter is hydro-powered from a dam; and 20.6 tons if it is powered by a captive coal-fired power station (Richard Cowen: Geology, History and People, Ch.14 Cartels and the aluminium industry, www.geology.ucdavis.edu). Most of India’s smelters apparently use a combination of electricity from dams and from their own coal-fired power stations, which they build to ensure a constant supply of electricity as well as to keep its price low.
3. During the 1960s Alcan set up an arms-manufacturing subsidiary in the UK, called Alcan-Booth, which was soon designing ’complex and high property aluminium alloys for the aircraft industry’, as well as its own range of tanks and other military vehicles (Alcan-Booth 1973).
4. See the India People’s Tribunal Report on pollution at Mettur, at www.iptindia.org, headed by Justice (Retd) A.B. Kadri of the Madras High Court, and G.M. Sainath 2005 on the Korvas: AIDS infiltrates tribal world of Chhattisgarh: the Korva tribe. Korba: D H News service, gmanjusainath at gmail.com.
5. Extensive toxic flooding and loss of life was caused during the Cyclone in 1999, and by a break in a tailings dam on 31st Dec. 2000 (reported in articles in the Indian Express and Asian Age between 1st and 11th Jan. 2001), as well as since.
6. Contamination of many acres by fluoride, its wasting effects on humans, livestock and crops, and the lack of compensation were reported on Orissa News, 13/9/04. The high levels of pollution in general from the Angul smelter, and on the rivers in particular, are laid out in a 1995 Report, Status of environmental pollution in the Angul-Talcher area, by the State Prevention and Control of Pollution Board, Bhubaneswar.
7. Caufield 1998 p.223. See also: State of Orissa’s Environment: a Citizens’ Report, 1994, Bhubaneswar, pp.144-5, and Oriya articles in Samaj 23/9/03 and Pragativadi 24/12/04.
8. A large part of Indravati’s water was channeled northeast into the Tel river, from which pipes are being laid to supply Vedanta’s Lanjigarh refinery.
9. Fox 1923 and 1932 p.136.
10. Hitler’s interest in Orissa’s bauxite/aluminium and iron-ore is outlined in an article by Ajit Mahapatra in Samaj (3 May 2005), who met one of Hitler’s key metal experts, and the widow of another.
11. Sarangi 2005, Menon 2005, and People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR ): Investigation into the impact on people due to the Alumina projects in south Orissa, Bhubaneswar, May 2005.
12. Nostromo 2005, Financial Express 16.12.05, an official announcement of Vedanta’s Jharsaguda smelter plan.
13. Graham 1982, The aluminium industry and the third world, is a detailed study of this, and the quotations from Anderson below include a frank admission of the main points in our argument here.
14. There has been great recent expansion in sponge iron production as well as protest by affected Adivasis in Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Orissa currently exports over 15 million tons of iron ore per year (The Hindu, 15/11/05). Orissa has 79 and Chhattisgarh 72 of these factories, which are presently threatening to close down (Dec. 2005), because they cannot get iron ore cheaply enough telegraphinidia.com 19 & 25/12/05). Yet few are equipped with mandatory Electro-Static Preceptors which limit carbon emissions newindpress.com 13/12/05). A public hearing on 31/10/05for a new Keonjhar plant at Malangtoli was declared fraudulent by local Adivasis (The Statesman 2/11/05).
15. D.Anderson 1951 p.21.
16. Smith 1988 p.250.
17. Thiery Berthoud of Pechiney (Nalco’s partner), in the keynote address to the Indian Conference on Aluminium in 2003 (INCAL Proceedings vol.1 p.7)
18. This much is admitted by the Henderson Investors’ report on Carbon emissions (June 2005), whose attempt to evaluate this cost has produced a (highly conservative) estimate of over $30 per ton of CO2 emissions. A recent report by the Dept. for the Environment of the UK Govt. gave the higher estimate of $56-223 per ton of CO2 (Andrew Simms in Ann Pettifor ed. Real world environmental outlook, London: Pallgrave 2003 p.66).
19. Nostromo 2005, CEC Report Sept. 2005.
20. Thea Picton: ’Aluminium: green metal?’ in Mining Monitor, October 1998.
21. Govt. of Orissa, Finance Dept. 2001: Fiscal and Governance Reforms.
22. PRAYAS & C.S.Venkata Ratnam 2003.
23. Moody 2005 pp.75-6, 86-7.
24. Holloway 1988, Stiglitz 2002, and our forthcoming book: Out of this Earth: Orissa’s indigenous lifestyle and the aluminium cartel.
25. 90% of Alcoa’s output was going to military applications during the first world war (Smith 1988 p.127), and a similar percentage during the second.
26. Harold Wilson pushed for a new generation of smelters in Britain, among them the nuclear-powered smelter at Anglesay in Wales. Those in Scotland are run by Alcan.
27. Nathan Hodge in the Financial Times, 30 June 2005, ’Pentagon studies China’s influence on the price of weapons metals’ mentions aluminium with titanium and steel as today’s key weapons metals.
28. Details of Balco’s deal supplying lightweight aluminium alloys for India’s Agni and Prithvi nuclear missiles were published in the Telegraph on 2/3/2001.
29. This is an important part of Alcan’s historic role, during the 1st and 2nd world wars and after, witness Alcan Booth 1973, Graham 1982 (passim).
30. Senior DFID officials played an important role establishing Vedanta Resources in London. One of its first Directors was Sir David Gore-Booth, an ex-British High Commissioner to India. And the Dept. for Trade and Industry advertised the investment and employment opportunities of the Lanjigarh project on its website until this was questioned by an activist in the UK.
31. On the debate on what constitutes real development see the last chapter, ’In the name of development’, of Padel 1995.
32. Kishen Pattnayak was a political leader in the Gandhian tradition, most influential on People’s Movements in Orissa and India as a whole, until his untimely death in September 2004. This quotation is from his introduction to our forthcoming book, Out of this Earth: Orissa’s Indigenous Lifestyle and the Aluminium Cartel.
33. In the words of an Adivasi from MP, about to be displaced by the Sardar Sarovar reservoir: ’To you who are part of the Govt and the towndwellers, our land seems to be just some Hills and Forests. But we are living in comfort… You take us to be poor. But we’re not. We live in harmony and co-operation with each other… We produce many kinds of Grains with our own efforts, and we don’t need money. We use Seeds produced by us… The Forest is our moneylender and banker…’ (Baba Mahariya 2001)
34. Elwin characterized this process of tribal culture losing its cohesion and vitality as a ’loss of nerve’. Scudder, who was the WB’s chief consultant on ’involuntary resettlement’ for many years, has written extensively on the effects of displacemnt (e.g. 1997). On the social effects of displacement on tribal people in India and Orissa, overviews in Viegas 1991 and Pandey 1998.
35. The Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) of 1996 consolidated the provision in Article 244 of India’s Constitution preventing the purchase of tribal lands by non-tribals, by insisting on a process of proper, democratic consultation with tribal communities, even in the case of major projects, considered of national importance. The Bhuria Committee whose findings became law under the PESA Act, was charged with extending the authority of local Panchayats in Schedule V areas.
36. Bakan 2004 gives an instructive and influential overview of the history of ’the company’, from the EIC to modern company practice. Matthew Josephson’s Robber Barons (1962) shows how the patterns of financial manipulation evolved in the US between 1861 and 1901 that are now so pervasive. David Korten’s When corporations rule the world (1995) explores this theme in more detail.
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