The official reason is the lack of progress for the mining-project, and a positive development of the alumina-refinety Alunorte in Brazil. There is however no doubt that local protests and critics from environmental and human rights organizations have contributed to the Utkal-project being a festering boil for Norsk Hydro: The news are met with cheers from the movement resisting the plans in India. They now hope the whole project will be shut down.
- This is good news. We have just been told the word here in Orissa, and everybody is pleased that Hydro is backing out, says Achyut Das in the local organization Agragamee.
It is not known whether anyone wants to buy Norsk Hydro's share in Utkal Alumina or if this represents the end of the project. The remaining partners in Utkal Alumina - Canadian Alcan and Indian Indal -have pre-emption rights, and a possible dissolving of the company requires a unanimous vote. Steinar Lem of The Future in Our Hands is worried for the future development, but insists that this is good news for those concerned about corporate social responsibility in social matters. When Norsk Hydro withdraws from a disputed bauxite-development in Orissa, this is an environmental victory for Norsk Hydro. Lem gives credit to Norsk Hydro for not wanting to contribute to a project that meets such great resistance from the poor in the area.
Norwatch Newsletter 12/01.