Writing intermittently on life, politics, and society

People versus profits

I caught a story about the extractive company Verdanta‘s antics in Orissa, Eastern India.

Going by these stories and pictures it looks as though Verdanta’s experience fits in nicely with many others in the extractive industry and the communities they affect.  For example:

Vedanta chairman Anil Agarwal and chief executive MS Mehta rejected charges of displacing local people following the construction of the refinery and claimed that their operations would “spread wealth” to one of the poorest regions of India.

Mehta said: “Rates of malnutrition among young children are running at 50% and many people are forced to go to cities where they struggle to find work. Our mining operations are a source of employment and prosperity.”

The thing is local communities might not see success in terms of a reduction in regional rates of malnutrition. There are also a significant group of stakeholders who would prefer not to lose the mountain and its ecosystem, which is central to their way of life, and who have not been consulted adequately.

Even if Verdanta are eventually allowed to resume operations, they are courting disaster the way they’re going.

UPDATE

Related: One of the best reads on India’s Maoist insurgency.

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