A newly released Official Norwegian Report (NOU) on the rights to environmental information, presupposes a change of the legislation which is regulating the consumers' rights to get access to information about the environmental impacts from the goods they buy.
CEO of Utkal Alumina (UAIL), Mr Ola Lie, said in a recent meeting with NorWatch that he knows who was behind the police action that led to the firing in Maikanch village on December 16th last year. The firing is now about to be investigated in a Judicial Inquiry by Orissa High Court. Mr Ola Lie says he will not submit his evidence to the Inquiry starting on May 2nd.
The controversial Sondu-Miriu hydro-electric project (HEP) in western Kenya could be suspended after funding due to be released for the project by the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) is withheld. If the additional loan is not made available by June, the HEP's contractor, Japan's Nippon Koei Co Ltd. will suspend construction work. One of the companies undertaking the civil works is Norwegian Veidekke ASA (see NorWatch 4/2001).
Land and environmental conflicts in the Brazilian state of Esperito Santo caused the state authorities to prohibit further extensions of eucalyptus plantations in the state (see NorWatch 17/99). According the the below proclamation from Forum Alert Against the Green Desert, Aracruz is taking advantage from the crisis within the family-based agriculture to buy land for such extension. Backed by the Government, the pulp-giant controls increasingly more valuable land in the state. This gains the few rich and not the increasing number of unemployed.
The ongoing process towards a common, international regime on shipbreaking is moving slowly ahead. At least three different institutions in the UN family are participating. IMO (International Maritime Organisation), UNEP (UN Environmental Programme), and ILO (International Labour Organisation). Norwegian authorities are playing an important role in the two institutions first mentioned. IMO has started the work towards guidelines on the preparations of ships prior to breaking, UNEP, under the Basel Convention, is looking into the environmental matters connected to shipbreaking, while ILO is raising questions concerning labour security and health.
Recent public attention to child labour in the tobacco industry has clearly come as a surprise for many people, including business representatives. That speaks volumes about these people's knowledge of the field.
Local forces are now asking for international assistance to prevent the Sondu-Miriu hydropower project in Kenya from ruining the livelihood of thousands. Veidekke, a Norwegian construction company, takes part in the development, but claims through their Japanese partner that criticism of the project is unfounded. According to several environmental organisations, the local people have been met with insufficient compensation and broken promises of power supplies and irrigation facilities. One opponent of the project was recently shot and arrested by local police.
In January, Crew got a production agreement for an extended prospecting area on the Philippine island of Mindoro. The agreement gives the company exclusive mining rights for 25 + 25 years. The local community has reacted strongly against the agreement and gathered 10,000 people for a protest meeting in late February. The protesters burned Arne Isberg, Crew's country manager in the Philippines, in effigy.
In February, Statoil announced that the company has entered an agreement of intent with its two partners in the Malaysian Melaka refinery, Petronas and Conoco, for selling the company's share of 15%. Statoil's share represented a production of 20,000 barrels a day. Petronas and Conoco will divide Statoil's share between themselves.
The power from Enron's gas-fired power plant on the east coast of India, the Dabhol Power Corp., is making trouble for the State's government. The power is more than three times as expensive as Enron promised at the outset. Kvaerner is currently engaged in expanding the plant (see NW 3/2000).
The Government tries to get things done in a friendly way. Or perhaps not even that. Three cabinets in a row have "called on" businesses not to deal with the Burmese dictatorship. Yet, trade has grown. Despite this, the Government does not want to adopt any boycott as legislation. This trade is so tiny that even industry could live with a boycott. Neither the national level nor local Government bodies have implemented the request in their purchasing routines.
NorWatch has spoken with six Norwegian companies that are still trading with Burma. When asking why they do not abide by the Government's call for a boycott, we were met with laughs and shakes of the head. None of the companies we talked to will voluntarily forego their trade relations with Burma. The companies did however stress that they will abide by any legislative changes in trade policy.