A British journalist meets Tata executives in Mumbai

Extracts from a website in Birmingham, England.

jon griffinIn the hard copy of the Post, Jon Griffin sees Tata’s takeover as an unqualified triumph and writes about Ratan Tata, chairman of a global empire employing more than half a million people. Mr Griffin met executives in Mumbai, but did he hear about the conglomerates’ losses and the social and environmental problems created by its power, mining and steel companies? In a recent post the displacement and brutality accompanying the acquisition of land by Tata Motors in India were briefly touched on; an equally brief overview of its power and steel projects follows.

tata steelTata Steel signed an MoU with the state government for establishment of the steel plant in 2004. However, the project remained a non-starter for years following the police firing on January 2, 2006, in which at least 13 tribals were killed during a an eviction drive carried out by the police.

Instead of cultivating keora . . . factory work is offered

kewra flowersDisplaced keora (kewra) growers were making a decent living from cultivating this flower which yields an essence used for centuries by the indigenous perfume industry, and an aromatic spice in traditional gourmet food.

Some have been offered maintenance or repetitive factory work – a poor substitute for their traditional way of life. Worn down by their nine year protests it is reported that villagers have now agreed that construction may start in 2014.

Power plant

The Compliance Advisor Ombudsman of the IFC, the World Bank’s investment arm, has accepted a community complaint against the Tata Power Plant in Mundra. The plant cuts across fishing grounds, habitat of diverse marine lives and a wide expanse of farm land, raising issues of environmental and health hazards and displacement.The economic viability of the project has collapsed due to the rise in price of Indonesian coal.

Losses

In late May 2012 the Tata Group announced a huge loss for the 2011/2012 financial year. The Business Standard stated that the company had been “battered by the huge provision for the 4,000-Mw Mundra power project.” In mid-July 2012 Standard & Poor’s downgraded Tata Power’s credit rating to negative. Four of its power generation units have  closed down temporarily after a major fire broke out at the plant on 14th Nov.

The Indian Express reports Tata Motors’ announcement that its global vehicle sales declined by 19.91 per cent to 81,957 units in November, compared to the year-ago period, the rate of decline has increased monthly since January this year.

What will the future hold?

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