Alcan't In India

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Alcan't In India

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Alcan’t in India

Background Information
Alcan, a Canadian mining company with headquarters in Montreal, entered a joint venture called The Utkal Project in 1993. This project’s intent was to establish a bauxite mine and refinery in the Kashipur region of India. Alcan controlled 45% of the venture after buying Norwegian partner Norsk Hydro’s 10% stake; Indal, the former subsidiary of Alcan, controlled the remaining 55%. Despite Alcan's claim that fewer than 200 families would be affected, a Norwegian government study concluded that up to 60000 people could be displaced. Additional studies found that the construction would also lead to deforestation, increased erosion, pollution and drying up of waterways, and less land for agriculture in an already drought-prone area. Despite Alcan’s claim that the project would benefit the communities, there was widespread opposition in the affected villages that lead to a lengthy delay in construction. During an anti-mine protest in December 2000, police shot and killed 3 local villagers. The deaths of these three individuals led to greater global awareness of the developments in Kashipur, and also widespread criticism of Alcan’s foreign direct investment in India.

Role of Alcan’t in India
Alcan’t in India was a group founded jointly by QPIRG, Federation des Femmes de Quebec, and the Canadian Federation of Students-Quebec in August 2003. Speaking in unison with the people of Kashipur, they opposed The Utkal Project. Alcan’t believed they could be an effective voice because their geographical advantage of also being from Montreal would allow them to pressure Alcan.





Alcan’t in India received endorsements from a variety of organizations, including the Green Party of Canada, Mining Watch, and The Canadian Auto Workers. Alcan’t issued several press releases demanding that Alcan release the Environmental Impact Assessment and the proof of consultation and consent with residents of Kashipur, both of which the corporation repeatedly claimed to possess.

Meeting with Alcan
On June 16, 2004, members of the group were able to meet with executives from Alcan and make their argument. Alcan released a statement after the meeting stating that they had no intention of going forward with the construction at the time because an Environmental Impact Assessment had not occurred, nor had the local population been properly engaged. However, the company did not show any interest in divesting its shares in Utkal or cancelling the project altogether, so Alcan’t continued its fight.

Protests
Alcan’t in India organized several street protests in the spring of 2005, some of which occurred outside of Alcan’s headquarters Maison Alcan. In addition to these protests, the group also held documentary film screenings that highlighted the impact of Utkal and the regional Indian opposition to the development. These events received Canadian media coverage from outlets such as the Montreal Gazette, Le Devoir, and the Toronto Star.

Results
Alcan’t in India’s actions certainly had an impact on the situation, but the results have been mixed. In 2007 Alcan sold its 45% stake in Utkal to Hindalco, Indal’s parent company. Currently Rio Tinto Alcan (Alcan’s title since 2008) has no active mining projects in India. However, The Utkal Project resumed development shortly after Hindalco became the sole investor in 2007, with the company originally scheduling completion for 2010 (though eventually pushed to 2012).

Works Cited
April 2004 Press Kit. 2004. File: Alcan’t in India. Box 19. QPIRG McGill Fonds. McGill University Archives.
Endorsers/Supporters/Contacts. 2005. File: Alcan’t in India. Box 19. QPIRG McGill Fonds. McGill University Archives.
Jha, Dilip Kumar. “Debilitating Delays Frustrate Alcan to Exit India.” Aluminum International Today 19.3 (May/June 2007): 12.
June 16th – Meeting with Alcan. 2004. File: Alcan’t in India. Box 19. QPIRG McGill Fonds. McGill University Archives.
Martinez- Alier, Joan. “Ecological Distribution Conflicts and Indicators of Sustainability.” International Journal of Political Economy 34(2004):13-30.
Position- June 2004. 2004. File: Alcan’t in India. Box 19. QPIRG McGill Fonds. McGill University Archives.
Press Kits- media coverage- March-April 2005. 2005. File: Alcan’t in India. Box 19. QPIRG McGill Fonds. McGill University Archives.
Quastel, Noah. “’This is a Montreal Issue’: Negotiating responsibility in global production and investment networks.” Geoforum 42.4 (July 2011): 451- 461.
Rio Tinto. “India.” Accessed March 28, 2014. http://www.riotinto.com/india- 9808.aspx.
Youth Training Project. 2004. File: Youth Training Project. Box 19. QPIRG McGill Fonds. McGill University Archives.









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