Environment scientist Robert Goodland on Utkal mining project

Published: Friday 15 June 2007

-- robert goodland, an environmental scientist, has come out with a report on Canadian mining giant Alcan's involvement with the Utkal Alumina and Bauxite Project in Kashipur, Orissa. The report reveals series of human rights abuses on adivasis protesting the project. Alcan has now withdrawn from the project. In an interview over email, Goodland shares his views with ranjan k panda

genesis of the report Alcan publicly promised its shareholders independent assessment of their 13-year partnership with Hindalco. I volunteered a few times. As Alcan turned me down, I took the task upon myself. My purpose was to see if Alcan was justified in remaining in the project for 13 years. I wanted to know if reports of massacre of adivasis were correct.

key findings Reports of brutality, atrocities and massacre of adivasis by police trying to accelerate the project were confirmed.

alcan psyche Alcan has had a decent reputation. It won the top rank in the mining sector social and environmental performance awards in February 2007. Which means, the company should not settle for anything less than the 'best practice' in mining. It should follow a suite of normal standards applicable to all mines. Alcan has a bauxite mine in Australia, where it follows standards--transparent social and environmental assessment before mining, respecting normal human rights and labour standards. But all this is not being followed in Orissa. Alcan has not been guided properly by environmental and social scientists. Also, independent boards should have warned the company against doing so.

environmental impact The project has barely started so the impact is relatively small.

impact on local people The bauxite industry has not helped the adivasis. The industry can help if it wants to but it has done the opposite. If land, forests and water from adivasis are taken away from them, they will perish or become paupers.

measures proposed Stop the Utkal project now and implement preventive and precautionary measures, given that the atrocities on adivasis have taken alarming proportions. I hope the dissemination of my report will boost transparency and help prevent further damage. The atrocities must be fully and promptly compensated, together with reparations commensurate with the crimes, and punishment of criminals.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.