Sixteen years of fraud?
Vedanta Resources’ launch on London’s stock exchange in late 2003 was the second biggest UK floatation of that year – and the largest-ever by an Indian company. It had taken several months for the UK’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) to supposedly check the company’s credentials, specifically its financial provenance. Just how did Vedanta’s key subsidiary, Sterlite Industries India Ltd, obtain the money to build itself into India’s most influential private mining conglomerate – with other important related ventures in Australia, Canada, and Armenia?
London Calling probes the home affairs of an Indian minister – and the company he keeps
P Chidambaram, India’s Home Affairs Minister since late 2008, is arguably the most powerful Indian politician. Not because he “sways the masses” either in villages or towns. (In the interview quoted below, he claims to wield far less influence on decisions made at individual state level than many think he does – or should). Rather, Chidambaram is fast being recognised as the sharpest intellectual force behind the project to thoroughly “modernise” his home country. He also holds court in some important international forums; and he seems able to mollify a few vociferous domestic critics, thanks to the breadth and depth of his knowledge and experience. However, it’s the Home Minister’s role in promoting London-based miner, Vedanta Resources plc (which on numerous occasions has escaped penalties for violating Indian laws) that may prove his ultimate Achilles Heel.
Indian Government says Vedanta violated licensing rules at Nyamgiri
Last August, India’s newly appointed central minister for environment and forests (MoE&F) promised to blow a “new wind” through some of his country’s dusty and corrupt corridors of administrative power. In particular, Jairam Ramesh said he’d staunch the flow of retrospective and rubber stamped (“in-principle”) permits, given to questionable industrial developments in rural areas. In many cases, these permits have contravened rights recently afforded to forest dwelling communities, particularly Adivasi (Indigenous) ones. Mr Ramesh has now demanded that the Orissa state government explain why UK-listed Vedanta Resources was allowed to work on (and indeed destroy) government land, in violation of the MOE&F’s guidelines.
Vedanta officials charged with culpable homicide over Indian disaster
It was one of India’s worst recent industrial disasters. On September 24 2009, a chimney being constructed as part of a coal-fired power plant for Vedanta’s Korba aluminium complex in Orissa, collapsed. At least 41 workers were buried alive. Shortly afterwards, the company was accused by Korba district police chief of having broken the law by embarking on the construction in the first place. (See: http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=9500.)
Then, in November, three officials from Vedanta’s subsidiary, BALCO, were arrested and charged with “culpable homicide” – one degree below murder.
Vedanta tells Indian court it can’t obey clean-up order
In September 2009, a 9-year old boy from Advalpal village, Goa, successfully took Vedanta to a Bombay court, accusing its iron ore subsidiary, Sesa Goa, of illegally dumping wastes which led to major flood destruction during recent heavy rains. (See: http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=9494.) In early November, Sesa Goa was called back to court, to explain how (not whether) it would remove the offending wastes. But the company reportedly claimed it couldn’t do so – because such removal would only create further land slides, causing “filthy water” to run back into Advalpal.
Sesa Goa slides on report of accounts probe
MUMBAI – Shares in miner Sesa Goa, a unit of London-listed Vedanta Resources, slumped more than 13 percent to a 3-week low on Tuesday after a newspaper reported that a government agency was probing the firm’s accounts.
Sixteen years of fraud?