Indian mining firms face human rights issues in Mozambique

New Delhi, May 24 (IANS) In a report with recommendations for Jindal Steel and Power (JSPL) and the Indian government, Human Rights Watch said the Mozambique government and foreign companies' work in resettling communities displaced by coal mining has "serious shortcomings".

The New York-based rights group's report, released Thursday in Mozambique's captial Maputo said lack of proper resettlement is leaving thousands without proper homes, food or sources of income.

JSPL has coal mining operations in Tete province of Mozambique and is planning to resettle families of the area.

The report on the impact of a mining boom in Mozambique points to the plight of more than 2,000 families displaced to make way for multi-billion dollar mines run by Vale and Rio Tinto.

"Human Rights Watch has communicated extensively with Vale, Rio Tinto, and Jindal Steel and Power representatives about these issues," the group's director for South Asia, Meenakshi Ganguly, told IANS Friday from Mumbai.

"The idea of recommendations to Jindal Steel & Power is so that it doesn't follow Vale, Rio Tinto and the Mozambique government in the way these companies have approached resettlement," Ganguly said.

The report said families in the province of Tete had faced "significant and sustained disruptions in accessing food, water and work" since being moved between 2009 and 2011.

According to Ganguly, the intensive interaction with the companies concerned through meetings, telephonic talks and written communications, was to drive home to the companies to ensure that the government fulfil its obligations on resettling the families displaced by coal mines.

"Apart from a set of recommendations to Jindal, the report also has a recommendation to the Indian government, regarding safeguarding local communities interests," said Ganguly.


Brazil-based Vale and London-based Rio Tinto have invested around $10 billion in mines in Tete, which has an estimated 23 billion tonnes of coal reserves.

The report said the Mozambique's government "should review, and if necessary halt, the process of awarding prospecting licenses and mining concessions to ensure that appropriate sites for resettlement are available."

Last year, 500 residents of Cateme, one of Vale's resettlement villages, took to the streets when cracks opened in their company-built houses only months after they moved in. Recently, the rail route from the Tete coal fields to the Indian Ocean port of Beira was blocked by bricklayers protesting their relocation.

JSPL is to invest $180 million in the Tete coal mine, while the government has a 10 percent stake.

In October 2011, JSPL received approval from the Mozambique government to build a 2,640 megawatt coal-fired power plant in the Tete province.

State-owned Coal India Ltd. (CIL) has prospecting rights to two blocks in the northwest of the country.


Get stories like this on the Yahoo app and discover more every day.
Download it now.