Press release from London Mining Network :  Update 1
25 September 2009
No firm death and injury count is yet available relating to victims of the September 23rd  disaster at UK-listed Vedanta’s power plant construction site in Korba, India, when a partly-constructed chimney collapsed on top of  a hundred or more workers.
The construction was part of Vedanta’s massive expansion of its aluminium complex in the north eastern Indian state of Chhattisgarh.
From official sources, it seems certain that at least 25 people have already died. Many others remain unaccounted for. It will take another four days for rescuers to clear the site debris, and at least two days to recover all the bodies.
A final death toll approaching one hundred (including those dying from severe injuries) seems tragically possible.
Vedanta’s alleged culpability
According to the mayor of Korba, quoted by leading Indian business news daily, the Business Standard [25 September 2009]:
* Vedanta (Balco) did not have permission from the civic authorities to construct the fatal chimney
* The Korba Municipal Corporation had earlier served notices on Vedanta for “violating the norms”
* Only a week before the disaster, a team from the Corporation visited the site and then ordered the company to stop construction; however “the company started the work again”
Meanwhile, there have been several demands by trade unionists, including the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), for the re-nationalisation of Balco [Press Trust of India, 25 September 2009].
Balco was privatised to Sterlite Industries in 2001, two years before the company registered as Vedanta on the London Stock Exchange.
Bankers’ responsibilities
In June 2009, Sterlite Industries made a US$ 1 billion bond offering, in the form of American Depositary Receipts (ADRs), aimed at raising capital for acquisitions, other corporate expenses, and to take the Indian government’s existing 49%  ownership of Balco, along with another aluminium subsidiary, Malco.
Vedanta has been trying to acquire full control of Balco for several years.
In 2006, a leading Indian research body, the V VGiri National Labour Institute indicted Balco for having broken almost all agreements made its workforce, in the five years since privatisation.
Numerous accusations of breaches in health, safety, and environmental regulations at Balco’s mining and aluminium production, have been made by Indian and international organisations over the past eight years.
The book runners behind the June 2009 offering were JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley.
Several leading European and US banks are believed to have invested.
* Note: Balco is a 51% subsidiary of Sterlite Industries India Ltd,  itself the main managed metals subsidiary of UK company, Vedanta Resources plc, which holds 59.9% of Sterlite. The majority shareholder in Vedanta is  Volcan Investments Ltd, 61.95%  owned and operated by Anil Agarwal, Vedanta’s executive chairperson, and members of his family.
For further details, please contact: Roger Moody (Nostromo Research) at:
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7700 6189
See also Korba’s killing field at