__MAIN_TEXT__

Page 1

NEWSWATCH CONTENTIOUS SERIES: NEWS MEDIA CONTENT ANALYSIS REPORTS

Undermined How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue

t ought to be counted as one of India’s most downplayed stories of the day. It is about the struggle to save an ecosystem called Niyamgiri in Orissa from mining, deforestation and devastation. It is about indigenous people and the rights over their land. Vedanta Resources, a stinking rich British company owned by NRI Anil Agarwal, intended digging an open-pit bauxite mine in Niyamgiri Hills. This mine would have destroyed the forests on which the Dongria Kondh depend, and wreck the lives of thousands of other Kondh tribal people living in the area. The Supreme Court had given a go-ahead for the project, but the battle raged on. Albeit silently. This project, by the way, would have also seen the death of the centuries-old sacred groves of these people. The Dongria Kondh do not live anywhere else and there are just 8,000 of them left. Those who knew of this, probably because they kept their eyes open for updates about Niyamgiri / Vedanta. And those who didn’t, could not be blamed. Newspapers were never replete with heart-wrenching stories from the hotspot. News channels don’t go blaring with animated, heated debates about the issue. And when on Facebook, no one was flooded with invites to join Niyamgiri causes or anti-Vedanta groups. The public remained in the dark, for all the wrong reasons. The Indian media, both by omission and commission, chooses it to be so.

I

THE FACE OF ABUSE: Amnesty International campaigners wrapped in aluminium foil protest outside Vedanta Resources, central London, to highlight blatant human rights abuses linked to Vedanta's aluminium refinery at Lanjigarh in Orissa, Monday February 8, 2010. Photo: Associated Press

In March 2010, a factfinding panel submitted to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests a damning report on the state of affairs in the Niyamgiri Hills. In mid-August another team came up with a hard-hitting report on instances of flagrant violations of the Forest Conservation Act, the Forest Rights Act, and the Environment Protection Act by Vedanta’s subsidiary operating in the Niyamgiri area. A week later, the government withdrew the forest clearance to the mine. Newswatch painstakingly tracked the news media coverage triggered by these three events. The findings, though disconcerting, did not come as a surprise — the Indian media still ignores the people of the area. The brute majority of the news coverage hovered around Vedanta — its activities, charges against it, and its subsequent denials of violations. The Dongria Kondh, on the other hand, even now, remain undermined.

NEWS MEDIA CONTENT ANALYSIS REPORTS

NEWSWATCH CONTENTIOUS SERIES

1


Undermined How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue

The methodology his study was launched to primarily look at how the news media covered the allegations against Vedanta Resources over bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri Hills of Orissa ending with the rejection of forest clearance of the project by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. The news content analysis was done over three phases. First phase: The release of a report by Amnesty International indicting the company over the

T

UNDERMINED RIGHTS: Members of the Dongria Kondh tribe gather on top of the Niyamgiri mountain, which they worship as their living god, to protest against plans by Vedanta Resources to mine bauxite from that Orissa mountain February 21, 2010. Photo: Reuters

violations of the rights of the local Dongria Kondh tribals formed the backdrop to the coverage. During the month of March, Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh made a statement saying that the multi-billion dollar mining giant had violated environmental regulations at its

2

NEWSWATCH CONTENTIOUS SERIES

project giving a go-by to tribal rights on basis of a report submitted by a three-member panel which conducted a site investigation over the diversion of 660 hectares of forest land for mining of bauxite ore in the Lanjigarh bauxite reserve. This was the trigger factor for the news that was to be tracked during this phase of the study. The monitoring of stories was done by browsing Google News from March 1 to 31, 2010. Altogether, 140 stories published during the period were tracked down. After leaving out duplicates (mainly because of news agency creeds), the number was brought down to 43. Of these 13 were seen to be in the “breaking news” category, the rest were follow-ups, earlier but pertinent stories, or analyses. In the Newswatch studies, “breaking news” is the first story of an incident – in this case, the statement by Union Minister Ramesh on the panel’s findings. The “breaking news” stories, therefore, were from distinct news outlets. There was also a need to see how the news-break was followed up. The stories selected for the analysis were coded on basis of 33 parameters. Each of these entries were cross-checked by two other persons to avoid errors of omission and commission. Only stories from newspapers, news agencies, major portals, and TV channels were considered for research. Blogs, among others, were not. Second phase: In this case only select top English newspapers were chosen for content analysis. In all 17 newspapers were studied. The “breaking news” factor for this phase was the submission on August 17 of the four-member NC Saxena Committee report which looked into the proposal of the Orissa Mining Company for bauxite mining in Niyamgiri. Third phase: Herein, the same 17 newspapers as in the previous phase were studied. The trigger for “breaking news” was the announcement on August 24 by Minister Ramesh that the ministry had rejected the forest clearance for the project, and therefore the environmental clearance stood inoperable.

NEWS MEDIA CONTENT ANALYSIS REPORTS


Undermined How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue

What the Amnesty International report on Niyamgiri had said he Amnesty International report, Don’t Mine Us out of Existence: Bauxite Mine and Refinery Devastate Lives in India documents how an aluminium refinery operated by a subsidiary of UK-based FTSE 100 company Vedanta Resources in Orissa, is causing air and water pollution that threatens the health of local people and their access to water. The report was released on February 9, 2010. Amnesty said that the authorities had given local communities scant or misleading information about the potential impact of the proposed alumina refinery expansion and mining project to be operated by subsidiaries of UK-based company Vedanta Resources in Orissa. In March and September 2009, Amnesty International researchers visited 19 Dongria Kondh hamlets in the Niyamgiri Hills, including those closest to the proposed opencast mine site. Testimony of the community members provided compelling evidence that the mining plans threatened to undermine their traditional land rights and religious beliefs. The plans also posed risks to their rights to water, food, and work, to an adequate standard of living, and to the community’s cultural rights.The communities feared the potential negative impact of mining on the perennial streams – their only source of water – that run through the hills, and the effect that an influx of people and equipment into this remote area will have on their way of life. Some of the points that Amnesty highlighted:  Vedanta Aluminium Limited’s alumina refinery at Lanjigarh has led to water and air pollution, seriously undermining the quality of life and threatening the health of nearby communities, some of whom live only a few hundred yards from the refinery’s boundary walls. The reality of conditions since the refinery opened in 2006 stands in starkcontrast with the glowing promises of employment and local development which authorities made to communities when they acquired their lands for the project.  In 2003, the Orissa government ordered the compulsory acquisition of farmlands in Lanjigarh to enable the construction of the refinery. During the land acquisition process government officials misinformed local communities about the possible benefits of the project, promising that the company would provide jobs to every family who sold their lands. They also claimed that the area would be transformed, with the provision of electricity and water, into a ‘Bombay’, ‘Delhi’ or ‘Dubai’. In reality, only people from families that were fully displaced were guaranteed jobs. Others were only entitled to priority in employment and some other benefits under the relief and rehabilitation policy for the project.  The processes used to refine alumina from bauxite produce wastes, which require careful management. These include a highly alkaline waste known as red mud, as well as waste water, dust from the bauxite, coal and lime handling areas and fly ash from the coal-fired boiler. At the public consultation for the environmental clearance for the project, people were not provided with any information on these issues, or on the waste management structures that would be set up right next to their villages. Nor was information provided on the associated risks for the environment and human health and well-being.

T

NEWS MEDIA CONTENT ANALYSIS REPORTS

 Vedanta Aluminium has repeatedly failed to adhere to these requirements. Between 2006 and 2009, the Orissa State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) documented numerous instances where the company has failed to put in place adequate pollution control measures and meet the conditions stipulated by the MoEF and OSPCB. The OSPCB findings indicate that the company commenced operations without putting in place all the necessary systems to adequately manage waste and pollution and that some processing and waste management systems were not built or operated in conformity with applicable regulatory requirements. This appears to have resulted in recurrent instances of leakages of highly alkaline wastewater into the Vamsadhara river or outside the refinery walls and to air pollution. The company has also failed on several occasions to implement directions given by the OSPCB to carry out repairs or undertake other actions in a timely manner, increasing the potential for ongoing pollution of water and air.  Of particular concern to people interviewed for the report was the leakage of highly alkaline wastewater into the river Vamsadhara, which is the lifeline of the area. Neither the OSPCB nor Vedanta Aluminium has disclosed information to the communities that live in the vicinity of the refinery and rely on the river on the nature and the extent of pollution, which has been documented by the OSPCB. This has created considerable uncertainty and fear amongst local communities, which have been exacerbated by instances and reports of people suffering from skin problems or falling seriously ill, and cattle dying, after bathing in river water. Residents who previously relied on the river for drinking water, bathing, and for their cattle, no longer considered the water safe. This has undermined the availability of clean drinking water, particularly in the summer months.

NEWSWATCH CONTENTIOUS SERIES

3


Undermined How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue

Phase I: Report of the first panel on Lanjigarh in March 2010  HEADLINES AND TREATMENT The first element of a news story that makes an impact on the reader is the headline. Eleven of the 13 news stories in the “breaking news” category went in for ‘label’ headlines; two opted for ‘declarative’ headlines. The ‘label’ headlines of ‘breaking news’ stories ranged from ‘India Cites Violations at Vedanta Mine Project’ (the Wall Street Journal, US) to ‘Vedanta flouted forest conservation norms, says report’ (The Hindu, Chennai). Only five of these stories were seen as

‘straight’. More stories (eight of them) had a dash of colour. Sample: “In a fresh jolt to mining multinational Vedanta Resources, a Union Environment Ministry team has found violations of green norms at its bauxite project at Niyamgiri hills in Kalahandi district of Orissa.” (Press Trust of India - March 12, New Delhi). All stories that either carried adjectives or showed a judgment or comment on part of the reporter, were marked as ‘colour’(-ed). All the stories were datelined New Delhi except for those in the Wall Street Journal

(Mumbai) and business portal Domainb.com (Undated). Four of these 13 were from Press Trust of India, that were published on March 12, 13 and 14. The other two stories were from Agence FrancePresse (AFP) and Reuters. Four of the 13 ‘breaking news’ stories carried bylines. One (by the Telegraph) was a composite story by its own correspondent and agency creeds. News outlets that carried news agency feeds were rejected, and instead the one by the agency was deemed as the original.

PHASE I: ‘BREAKING NEWS’ STORIES: HEADLINE TYPES AND STORY TREATMENTS Headline

News outlet

Date

Headline

Central govt panel says Vedanta violating guidelines . . . . . . . . . . . . . Reuters . . . . . . . . . . . . .March 16, 2010 India Cites Violations at Vedanta Mine Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Wall Street Journal . . . .March 15, 2010 Panel glare on Vedanta project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Telegraph . . . . . . . . . . .March 14, 2010 Vedanta violated forest conservation law: report. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Press Trust of India . . .March 14, 2010 Vedanta violating green norms in Niyamgiri Hills: Govt. . . . . . . . . . . . Press Trust of India . . .March 13, 2010 Vedanta violating forest laws in Orissa: environment ministry news . . domain-b . . . . . . . . . . .March 13, 2010 Miner Vedanta flouting Indian rules: minister . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Agence France-Presse March 13, 2010 Vedanta violated green norms in Orissa: Ramesh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Business Standard . . . .March 13, 2010 OMC committed 2 forest Act violations: panel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .March 13, 2010 Vedanta flouted forest conservation norms, says report . . . . . . . . . . . Hindu . . . . . . . . . . . . . .March 13, 2010 Vedanta Violating Green Norms in Orissa: Govt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Press Trust of India . . .March 13, 2010 Vedanta infringed clearance guidelines. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Times of India . . . . . . . .March 13, 2010 Green norms violated at Niyamgiri Hills: Environment Min team . . . . Press Trust of India . . .March 12, 2010

 QUOTE, UNQUOTE Using quotes in a story has a number of uses. For one, it adds credibility to a story. Then, it adds a human element – a personal touch. And, it lends voices to people. The flipside is that not quoting someone or a group of people tantamounts to filtering them out. These things can happen either willingly, or unwittingly on part of reporters/editors. Sometimes people who need to be quoted might not be at hand. The bottomline, nevertheless, is that the usage of quotations can swing the mood of a story. The ‘breaking news’ trigger for this study was the statement made by Union Minister Jairam Ramesh. All, but three, quoted the

Tone

. . . . .Label . . . . . . . .Colour . . . . .Label . . . . . . . .Colour . . . . .Declarative . . . .Colour . . . . .Label . . . . . . . .Colour . . . . .Label . . . . . . . .Colour . . . . .Label . . . . . . . .Colour . . . . .Label . . . . . . . .Straight . . . . .Label . . . . . . . .Straight . . . . .Label . . . . . . . .Straight . . . . .Label . . . . . . . .Colour . . . . .Label . . . . . . . .Straight . . . . .Declarative . . . .Straight . . . . .Label . . . . . . . .Colour

minister in the story. The ones that did not were by Reuters, Mint, and the Hindu. A Vedanta official did get the chance to react in the stories by Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, and Press Trust of India. On the other hand, the only news outlet to quote an antiVedanta activist was the Wall Street Journal. All the 13 stories had little or more of what the three-member panel had to say about environmental violations in the Niyamgiri area. Only the Telegraph and the Hindu carried excerpts from the reports by each of the three panel members. The Press Trust of India (Vedanta Violating Green Norms in Orissa: Govt) carried two and the Times of India one. The rest only mentioned in brief.

PHASE I: ‘BREAKING NEWS’ STORIES AND NEWS OUTLETS: WHO QUOTED WHOM Headline

News outlet

Ramesh

Vedanta

Activist

Central govt panel says Vedanta violating guidelines . . . . . . . . . . . . .Reuters . . . . . . . . . . . . . No . . . . . . . . .Yes . . . . . . .No India Cites Violations at Vedanta Mine Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Wall Street Journal . . . . Yes . . . . . . . . .Yes . . . . . . .Yes Panel glare on Vedanta project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Telegraph . . . . . . . . . . . Yes . . . . . . . . .No . . . . . . . .No Vedanta violated forest conservation law: report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Press Trust of India. . . . Yes . . . . . . . . .No . . . . . . . .No Vedanta violating green norms in Niyamgiri Hills: Govt . . . . . . . . . . .Press Trust of India. . . . Yes . . . . . . . . .No . . . . . . . .No Vedanta violating forest laws in Orissa: environment ministry news . .domain-b. . . . . . . . . . . . Yes . . . . . . . . .No . . . . . . . .No Miner Vedanta flouting Indian rules: minister . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Agence France-Presse. Yes . . . . . . . . .No . . . . . . . .No Vedanta violated green norms in Orissa: Ramesh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Business Standard . . . . Yes . . . . . . . . .No . . . . . . . .No OMC committed 2 forest Act violations: panel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Mint. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . No . . . . . . . . .No . . . . . . . .No Vedanta flouted forest conservation norms, says report . . . . . . . . . . .Hindu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . No . . . . . . . . .No . . . . . . . .No Vedanta Violating Green Norms in Orissa: Govt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Press Trust of India. . . . Yes . . . . . . . . .Yes . . . . . . .No Vedanta infringed clearance guidelines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Times of India . . . . . . . . Yes . . . . . . . . .No . . . . . . . .No Green norms violated at Niyamgiri Hills: Environment Min team . . . .Press Trust of India. . . . Yes . . . . . . . . .No . . . . . . . .No

4

NEWSWATCH CONTENTIOUS SERIES

Panel

. . . . . . .Yes . . . . . . .Yes . . . . . . .Yes . . . . . . .Yes . . . . . . .Yes . . . . . . .Yes . . . . . . .Yes . . . . . . .Yes . . . . . . .Yes . . . . . . .Yes . . . . . . .Yes . . . . . . .Yes . . . . . . .Yes

NEWS MEDIA CONTENT ANALYSIS REPORTS4


Undermined How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue  FOLLOW-UPS, ANALYSES AND EDITORIALS Of the 30 other write-ups that were tracked, one was an editorial (the Economic Times), and six were features (two of them before March 14). Twenty-one were follow-ups, all released or published on or after March 12. Two news stories had been carried earlier. The Economic Times editorial was the only one that outrightly called for Vedanta to leave the Niyamgiri hills: The core issue is violent disruption of a tribal people’s life for the sake of mineral extraction in a manner that would mock the ruling ideology of inclusive growth, and give legitimacy to the Maoists. Maoists represent themselves as the only champions of India’s dispossessed and exploited rural masses, especially the scheduled tribes. India can progress with some of its bauxite continuing to field feature that carried comments from both Vedanta and tribals lie underground for some more time. India cannot progress of Niyamgiri (Financial Express). with a growing internal security threat, fed by the state’s Of the follow-up stories, eight were analyses of the possible failure to live up to its commitment to the common people. fallout. All these were “colourful” stories pegged at what it meant One of the UPA government’s major legislative achievements, for Vedanta from the financial point of view. There was in its previous term, was the Forest Rights Act, Phase I: Report of the only one field report (in Business Standard) that whose sincere implementation would deprive first panel on Lanjigarh carried the opinions and grievances of the Niyamgiri Maoists of a crucial support base. in March 2010 people. The paper also carried a story on a relatively The law is being subverted all over the country, inconsequential fallout protest. for want of political mobilisation in its support. There were four stories that published the Orissa government’s The Lanjigarh bauxite mining project, if it goes through, denial of environmental violations. Two were denials from would be yet more subversion of a key instrumentality of Vedanta. The Kalinga Times website carried a story about inclusive growth. Of the four subsequent features, one was a field story about the Vedanta’s CSR activities. A Hindustan Times story was about charges against Vedanta (Times of India), one a report on Jairam Ramesh’s take on the Supreme court’s role. Vedanta’s CSR activities in the region (Business Standard), one a There were also two other stories about Vedanta that were not field story that was Vedanta’s version of the events and state of directly related to the Niyamgiri issue. There was a totally affairs in the Niyamgiri hills (Financial Express), and the last a unrelated story about only the Dongria Kondh in the Telegraph.

PHASE I: THE FOLLOW-UPS, ANALYSES AND SLANTS OF STORIES Headline

News outlet

Date

Dateline

Slant

Vedanta's criticism unfair, regrettable: Liberium Capital . . . . . . . . . . .Press Trust of India . .Mar 7 . . .New Delhi . . . . . .Vedanta defence Real-life Avatar battle looming . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Reuters . . . . . . . . . . .Mar 7 . . .Undated . . . . . . . .Field: Tribe's version Church of England pulls out of Vedanta Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Post Zambia . . . . . . . .Mar 9 . . .Undated . . . . . . . .Vedanta investor Tribal India battles big business over land . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Financial Times . . . . .Mar 10 . .Lohandiguda . . . .Pegged to Vedanta Vedanta rejects British criticism on rights abuse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Asian Age . . . . . . . . . .Mar 12 . .London . . . . . . . . .Vedanta denial Vedanta builds resting place for Kalahandi DC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Kalinga Times . . . . . .Mar 13 . .Bhubaneswar . . . .Vedanta CSR Vedanta violated govt clearances: report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Business Standard . . .Mar 14 . .New Delhi . . . . . .Analysis of fallout Vedanta projects within law: Orissa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Press Trust of India . .Mar 14 . .New Delhi . . . . . .Orissa govt’s denial Vedanta Resources plans to spin off $20bn aluminum division . . . . .Telegraph (UK) . . . . . .Mar 14 . .Undated . . . . . . . .Not directly related Vedanta may spin off aluminium project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Economic Times . . . . .Mar 15 . .Mumbai . . . . . . . .Not directly related Vedanta plans within law: Orissa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Press Trust of India . .Mar 15 . .New Delhi . . . . . .Orissa govt’s denial India Pulls Up Vedanta for Flouting Norms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Wall Street Journal . . .Mar 15 . .Mumbai . . . . . . . .Analysis of fallout Vedanta's Orissa mining project under govt scanner . . . . . . . . . . . . .Economic Times . . . . .Mar 16 . .New Delhi . . . . . .Analysis of fallout Jairam’s Vedanta statement not based on facts: Orissa minister . . . .Financial Express . . . .Mar 16 . .Bhubaneswar . . . .Orissa govt’s denial Baffled Vedanta accuses panel member of bias charge denied . . . . .Press Trust of India . .Mar 16 . .New Delhi . . . . . .Vedanta denial Govt panel says Vedanta violating guidelines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Reuters . . . . . . . . . . .Mar 16 . .New Delhi . . . . . .Analysis of fallout Tribal villages in land row . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Times of India . . . . . .Mar 16 . .Bhubaneswar . . . .Field: Vedanta charges Tribe readies for battle against Vedanta's mine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Business Standard . . .Mar 17 . .New Delhi . . . . . .Field: Tribe's version An avatar of green hunt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Economic Times . . . . .Mar 17 . .Undated . . . . . . . .Stop Vedanta Hill tribes hold sacred rites . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Telegraph . . . . . . . . . .Mar 17 . .Bhubaneswar . . . .Unrelated story Soaring costs are killing Vedanta Alumina . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Business Standard . . .Mar 18 . .New Delhi . . . . . .Analysis of fallout Vedanta's Niyamgiri bauxite project may suffer on Congress' tribal tiltdomain-b . . . . . . . . . .Mar 18 . .Undated . . . . . . . .Analysis of fallout Cong's pro-tribal tilt may upset Vedanta’s plans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Economic Times . . . . .Mar 18 . .New Delhi . . . . . .Analysis of fallout Orissa bats for Vedanta even as govt panel finds violations . . . . . . . .Times of India . . . . . .Mar 18 . .New Delhi . . . . . .Orissa govt’s denial The twist in the Kondh struggle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Business Standard . . .Mar 19 . .New Delhi . . . . . .Vedanta CSR Flouting of Forest Conservation Act and Guidelines by Ministry of Forest & Environment . . .Mar 20 . .Bhubaneswar . . . .Analysis of fallout Ramesh takes on SC over Vedanta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Hindustan Times . . . .Mar 21 . .New Delhi . . . . . .Ramesh take on SC Halt all Vedanta projects, says Lok Shakti Abhijan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Business Standard . . .Mar 24 . .Kolkata/Bhu’swar .Follow-up incident Battle for Niyamgiri: Vedanta faces tribal ire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Financial Express . . . .Mar 27 . .Lanjigarh . . . . . . .Field: Vedanta version Vedanta runs into tribal fury in battle for bauxite in Niyamgiri . . . . . . .Financial Express . . . .Mar 27 . .Lanjigarh . . . . . . .Field: Both versions

NEWS MEDIA CONTENT ANALYSIS REPORTS

NEWSWATCH CONTENTIOUS SERIES

5


Undermined How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue

Phase II: Submission of the Saxena Committee report hree things happened on August 16, 2010. The first was the revelation of the findings of the four-member committee which looked into the proposal of the Orissa Mining Company for bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri hills of Orissa. The second, related specifically to the company, was Vedanta Resources agreeing to buy as much as 60 per cent of oil and gas explorer Cairn India for $9.6 billion. The third, indirectly related to the first, was about the Union government planning to check illegal mining across the country. This phase of the study looked at 17 newspapers for the way in which they covered the three news triggers. All dailies were studied by accessing the PDF versions of editions dated August 18 on their websites. The following newspapers were selected for this phase: 1. Asian Age, The (New Delhi) 2. Assam Tribune, The (Guwahati) 3. Business Standard (New Delhi) 4. Daily News & Analysis (Mumbai) 5. Deccan Chronicle (Hyderabad) 6. Deccan Herald (Bengaluru) 7. Economic Times, The (New Delhi) 8. Financial Chronicle (New Delhi) 9. Financial Express, The (New Delhi) 10. Hindustan Times (New Delhi) 11. Indian Express, The (New Delhi) 12. Mint (New Delhi) 13. New Indian Express, The (Chennai) 14. Pioneer, The (New Delhi) 15. Statesman, The (Kolkata) 16. Telegraph, The (Kolkata) 17. Times of India, The (New Delhi) In all, 97 distinct news items were spotted in these 17 newspapers. Close to two-third of the stories (61 in all) were about the Vedanta buyout of Cairn India. Only 17 of these pertained to the Saxena committee report. Even the mining issue was accorded more coverage with 19 distinct news stories. The maximum number of stories were published by the Times of India (14), which carried 11 Cairn takeover items. Three newspapers missed the Saxena committee report altogether – the

T

ZERO COVERAGE: The New Indian Express, Chennai, was one of the few that did not have any coverage on the front page.

Assam Tribune, the New Indian Express, and the Telegraph. The mining probe story was missed by the Assam Tribune, the Economic Times, Hindustan Times, Mint, the Pioneer, and the Telegraph. None of the newspapers missed the Cairn story. The most number of stories on the Saxena report were carried by Hindustan Times – three.

PHASE II: NUMBER OF STORIES PUBLISHED BY INDIVIDUAL NEWSPAPERS Publication

Saxena report

Cairn takeover

Asian Age, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Assam Tribune, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0 Business Standard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Daily News & Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Deccan Chronicle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Deccan Herald . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Economic Times, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Financial Chronicle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Financial Express, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Hindustan Times . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Indian Express, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Mint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 New Indian Express, The . . . . . . . . . . . . .0 Pioneer, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Statesman, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Telegraph, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0 Times of India, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11

Mining policy . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 . . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 . . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 . . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 . . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Total

. . . . . . . . . . .5 . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . .12 . . . . . . . . . . .5 . . . . . . . . . . .4 . . . . . . . . . . .4 . . . . . . . . . . .8 . . . . . . . . . . .6 . . . . . . . . . .11 . . . . . . . . . . .6 . . . . . . . . . . .5 . . . . . . . . . . .5 . . . . . . . . . . .2 . . . . . . . . . . .4 . . . . . . . . . . .3 . . . . . . . . . . .2 . . . . . . . . . .14

TOTAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61 . . . . . . . . . . . .19 . . . . . . . . . .97

6

NEWSWATCH CONTENTIOUS SERIES

UNIMPORTANT: Villagers wash in the river Vamsadhara at Chattarpur. There was no process to seek the community’s informed consent. Photo: Amnesty International

NEWS MEDIA CONTENT ANALYSIS REPORTS


Undermined How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue

What the Saxena Committee report said site inspection of the proposed mining lease (PML) on the upper reaches of the Niyamgiri hills and adjoining areas undertaken on behalf of the Forest Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in January-February 2010 had found several instances of violation of environmental laws, of which the most severe were cases of non-compliance with the Forest Rights Act 2006. This led the MoEF to constitute on June 29, 2010 a Four Member Committee comprising: Dr NC Saxena, IAS (Retd), Member, National Advisory Council; Prof S Parasuraman, Director, Tata Institute of Social Sciences; Dr Promode Kant, Indian Forest Service (Retd); and Dr Amita Baviskar, Associate Professor of Sociology, Institute of Economic Growth. The committee was mandated to examine, in detail, the proposal submitted by the Orissa Mining Corporation Limited, under the provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, for diversion of 660.749 ha of forest land for the Lanjigarh bauxite mines in the Kalahandi and Rayagada districts of the state of Orissa. It submitted its report on the findings on August 16, 2010.

A

The Dongria Kondh: The forested slopes of the Niyamgiri hills and the many streams that flow through them provide the means of living for Dongaria Kondh and Kutia Kondh tribes. These are Scheduled Tribes, with the Schedule V of the Indian Constitution which enjoins the government to respect and uphold the land rights of Scheduled Tribes applying to the entire Niyamgiri hills region. These tribes are also notified by the government as ‘Primitive Tribal Groups’ and eligible for special protection. While the Dongaria Kondh live in the upper reaches of the Niyamgiri hills, the Kutia Kondh inhabit the foothills. The Dongaria Kondh derive their name from dongar or hill. The Niyamgiri hills are the sole habitat of this group whose distinctive identity is evident in their unique language, agro-forestry expertise, social structure, and religious practices. At least 1453 Dongaria Kondh (20 per cent of the total population of the community numbering 7952 as of the 2001 census) live in villages in and around the forest blocks of the proposed mining lease area. The two communities regard the Niyamgiri hills as sacred and believe that their survival is dependent on the integrity of its ecosystem. The PML site is among the highest points in the hills and it is considered especially important as a sacred site. All the Dongaria and Kutia Kondh villagers that the committee conversed with emphasised the connection between their culture and the forests of the Niyamgiri The PML area is used by both Dongaria and Kutia Kondh and is part of their Community Reserved Forests as well as their habitat, since they depend on it for their livelihoods as well as socio-cultural practices. Their reverence for the hills is rooted in their strong dependence on the natural UNDERMINED RIGHTS: Members of the Dongria Kondh tribe dance in a trance during a ceremony resources that the mountains provide. Their customary on top of the Niyamgiri mountain, which they worship as their living god, to protest against plans by Vedanta Resources to mine bauxite from that Orissa mountain February 21, 2010. Photo: Reuters practices in the area include agriculture, grazing and the collection of minor forest produce. The age-old access of Kutia and Dongaria Kondh to the PML area and the surrounding forests has been recognised in several forest settlement reports and working plans, and was also confirmed by the forest staff to the committee members during their field visit. Ecological costs of mining: Mining operations of the intensity proposed in this project spread over more than 7 square km would severely disturb this important wildlife habitat. The entire Niyamgiri hills will suffer major ecological damage if mining is allowed in the PML area. Several perennial springs flow from below the top plateau, which is a part of the proposed mining lease site. It

NEWS MEDIA CONTENT ANALYSIS REPORTS

NEWSWATCH CONTENTIOUS SERIES

7


Undermined How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue

TAKEN AWAY: A villager stands on land he once owned, beneath an unfinished conveyor belt designed to transport bauxite ore. There had been no process to seek the community’s informed consent.Photo: Sanjit Das / Amnesty International

appears likely that the PML could be one of the main sources of Vamsadhara river which would make mining on this plateau a hydrological disaster.  As many as 1,21,337 trees will have to be cut in case the mining lease is granted. Of these trees approximately 40 per cent would be in the mining lease area while the remaining 60 per cent would have to be removed to construct the access road and other mine related planned activities.  Given that more than 1.21 lakh trees have to be felled; and since the number of shrubs and large herbs in a rich tropical forest are at least thrice the number of trees, it can be reasonably concluded that more than 3.63 lakh shrubs and ground level flora would also be cleared under the project.  The PML (and the Niyamgiri Hills habitat) is highly productive in terms of wildlife since it provides the valuable ‘edge effect’ to wild animals, with open grasslands as feeding space and neighbouring trees for shelter and escape.  The grasses are breeding and fawning ground for Four-Horned Antelope (Tetracerus quadricornis), Barking Deer (Muntiacus muntjac), as well as Spotted Deer (Axis axis). A rare lizard, Golden Gecko (Callodactylodes aureus), is found on the proposed lease area.  The value of Niyamgiri hill forests as an important elephant habitat is well recognized; therefore this habitat has been included within the South Orissa Elephant Reserve. Mining on the scale proposed in

8

NEWSWATCH CONTENTIOUS SERIES

this habitat would severely disturb elephant habitats, and threaten the important task of elephant conservation in south Orissa. That mining causes severe disturbance to elephant habitats has already been demonstrated in Keonjhar district. Human costs of mining: Mining, if permitted, will directly affect a substantial section (almost 20 per cent of their entire population in this world!) of the Dongaria Kondh community. An impact on such a significant fraction of the population of the community will have repercussions on the community’s very survival, the overall viability of this group and its biological and social reproduction. All the 104 Dongaria Kondh villages are linked by marriage, since the member of a clan must seek a spouse from another clan. The circulation of women and bride-price between villages is essential for maintaining the social and economic integrity of the community. The mining operations will also have significant adverse impact on the livelihoods of these communities for three reasons.  The mining operations will destroy significant tracts of forest lands. Since the Dongaria and Kutia Kondh are heavily dependent on forest produce for their livelihood, this forest cover loss will cause a significant decline in their economic well-being.  Their cultivation lands lie in close proximity to the PML area. Mining-related activities such as treefelling, blasting, the removal of soil, road building, and the movement of heavy machinery will deny

NEWS MEDIA CONTENT ANALYSIS REPORTS


Undermined How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue

them access to their lands that they have used for through the Dongaria’s territories, opening the generations. area to outsiders, a trend that is already  These activities will also adversely affect the threatening the rich biodiversity of the hills. surrounding slopes and streams that are crucial for  The mining at the proposed mining lease site will their agriculture. provide only 3Mtpa of ore out of the total annual If the economic and social life of one-fifth of requirement of 18 Mtpa of the Refinery after its Dongaria Kondh population is directly affected by the ongoing expansion from the existing capacity of 1 mining, it will threaten the survival of the entire Mtpa to 6 Mtpa (for which they have already nearly community - mining would destroy their economic, completed the work even before getting social and cultural life. permission). The proposed mining site thus has Recommendations: On the basis of oral and low relevance to the future of the Refinery and is documentary evidence collected by the Committee it is not critical at all for its functioning as is being established beyond dispute that Dongaria and Kutia claimed by the Company and the state officials. Kondh have had traditional, customary, and often  The Vedanta Company has consistently violated formalized access to the PML area as well as to the the FCA, FRA, EPA and the Orrisa Forest Act in surrounding thick forests on the slope to collect active collusion with the state officials. Perhaps the various types of forest produce. These rights would be most blatant example of it is their act of illegally extinguished if the area is transferred for mining. enclosing and occupying atleast 26.123 ha of  The Ministry of Environment and Forests cannot Village Forest Lands within its refinery depriving grant clearance for use of forest land for non-forest tribal, dalits and other rural poor of their rights. purposes because the legal conditions for this In view of the above this Committee is of the clearance as laid down by its circular of 3 August, firm view that allowing mining in the proposed 2009, have not yet been met. These include the mining lease area by depriving two Primitive following: the process of recognition of rights Tribal Groups of their rights over the proposed under the Forest Rights Act has not been mining site in order to benefit a private completed; the consent of the concerned company would shake the faith of tribal people community has neither been sought nor in the laws of the land which may have serious obtained; and the Gram Sabhas of the area consequences for the security and well being of concerned (hamlets in a Scheduled Area) the entire country. have not certified on both these points as required.  Mining will severely degrade the Niyamgiri hills ecosystem which is a rich wildlife habitat and an important and recognized elephant corridor, endanger the Dongaria Kondh’s selfsufficient forest-based livelihoods, and lead to the extinction of their culture over a period of time.  More than 7 square kilometres of the sacred undisturbed forest land on top of the mountain that has been protected for ages by the Dongaria Kondh as sacred to their deity, Niyam Raja, and essential for the region’s fertility, will be stripped off its vegetation, soil and rendered into a vast THE LAW DOWN THE DRAIN: The committee found this red mud pond of the Vedanta aluminium refinery at Lanjigarh, Kalahandi barren exposed land. district (responsible for dust pollution).Photo: Saxena Committee  Mining will build roads

NEWS MEDIA CONTENT ANALYSIS REPORTS

NEWSWATCH CONTENTIOUS SERIES

9


Undermined How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue  DISPLAY OF STORIES

front page leading inside in one (Hindustan Times), and By the law of averages, the importance that a newspaper attaches highlighted as the business page lead in six (the Asian Age, the to a news event is directly proportional to the Deccan Chronicle, the Indian Express, the Pioneer, the Phase II: Submission of Statesman, and the Telegraph. prominence that it gives the story. the Saxena Committee Just as importance was accorded to the Cairn The Saxena report story was the front page lead in report in August takeover in terms of the sheer number of news only two newspapers – Times of India and Pioneer. items, newspapers by and large gave more Two of the business newspapers packaged it with their prominence to it in terms of display to. The main Cairn takeover front page lead story on the Cairn acquisition. The Statesman and news item was the front page lead in all the five business the Indian Express did not make it their lead, but displayed them newspapers studied. In the other newspapers, it was packaged with prominently below their respective leads of the day. The mining the front lead in one (Times of India), displayed as a brief on the story was the front lead in Deccan Herald.

PHASE II: DISPLAY ACCORDED BY NEWSPAPERS TO THE MAIN STORY Publication

Saxena report

Cairn takeover

Mining policy

Asian Age, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Business page; middle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Business page; lead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Nation page; middle Assam Tribune, the . . . . . . . . . . .Not carried . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Business page; middle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Not carried Business Standard . . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; packaged with lead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; lead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Not carried (1) Daily News & Analysis . . . . . . . . .Nation page; middle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; brief, leading inside . . . . . . . . . . . . .Business page; middle Deccan Chronicle . . . . . . . . . . . . .Business page; middle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Business page; lead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Nation page; top Deccan Herald . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Nation page; middle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Business page; middle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; lead Economic Times, The . . . . . . . . .Inside page; top, with pointer from front . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; lead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Not carried Financial Chronicle . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; packaged with lead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; lead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Inside page; top Financial Express, The . . . . . . . .Inside page; top, with pointer from front . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; lead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Inside page; middle Hindustan Times . . . . . . . . . . . . .Nation page; top, with pointer from front . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; middle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Not carried Indian Express, The . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; middle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Business page; lead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Nation page; middle Mint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; middle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; lead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Not carried New Indian Express, The . . . . . . .Not carried . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Business page; sidebar brief . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Nation; bottom Pioneer, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; lead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Business page; lead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Not carried Statesman, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; middle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Business page; lead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Business page; top Telegraph, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Not carried . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Business page; lead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Not carried Times of India, The . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; lead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; packaged with lead . . . . . . . . . . . . .Nation page; middle Notes: (i) The Business Standard mining story was not about the government’s plans to check illegal mining, but a profile of Union minister Jairam Ramesh, which had mining and Vedanta angles to it.

10

NEWSWATCH CONTENTIOUS SERIES

NEWS MEDIA CONTENT ANALYSIS REPORTS


Undermined How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue  OVERVIEW OF NIYAMGIRI / MINING STORIES The 17 newspapers surveyed carried 17 items on the Saxena committee report and 19 on the government’s new mining policy. In the case of the first, 11 were datelined New Delhi, three Bhubaneswar, and two New Delhi / Bhubaneswar, while one page one brief was undated. The report had been released in New Delhi. In the case of the latter, 13 items were datelined New Delhi, one New Delhi / Bengaluru, and one undated. Two items were editorials, one a profile of Union Minister of State Jairam Ramesh, and the last a Bengaluru-datelined story on Karnataka mining. Phase II: Submission of Only seven of the Saxena report the Saxena Committee items were straight-forward ‘label’ report in August headlines (‘Panel favours halt to Vedanta project’, ‘Shut Vedanta mines: Panel’, etc). The rest were declarative , ranging from ‘Panel nails Vedanta lie, project hits the rock’ to ‘Vedanta’s Orissa project faces setback over forest clearance’. In case of the mining items, however, as many as 14 were ‘label’ headlines. When it came to the item itself, in case of the Saxena report, only four were straight-jacket, while the rest were laced with colour of varying hues. In case of the mining items, on the other hand, as many as 14 were straight, with only five (including the editorials and the profile) were seen to be colourful.

PHASE II: OVERVIEW OF STORIES ABOUT THE SAXENA REPORT AND MINING POLICY Headline

Newspaper

Dateline

Headline type

Story tone

SAXENA COMMITTEE REPORT Panel to stop Vedanta mining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Asian Age, The . . . . . . . .Bhubaneswar . . . . .Declarative . . . . . .Colour Sterlite’s Niyamgiri mining project illegal: Panel . . . . . . . . . . . . .Business Standard . . . . .New Delhi / B’swar .Label . . . . . . . . . . .Colour Panel stops Vedanta’s Orissa project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Daily News & Analysis . . .New Delhi . . . . . . . .Declarative . . . . . .Straight anel to stop Vedanta mining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Deccan Chronicle . . . . . .Bhubaneswar . . . . .Declarative . . . . . .Colour Panel favours halt to Vedanta project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Deccan Herald . . . . . . . . .New Delhi . . . . . . . .Label . . . . . . . . . . .Colour Saxena panel against mining nod for Vedanta . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Economic Times, The . . .New Delhi . . . . . . . .Label . . . . . . . . . . .Colour Panel opposes mining by Vedanta in Orissa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Financial Chronicle . . . . .New Delhi . . . . . . . .Label . . . . . . . . . . .Straight Vedanta’s Orissa project faces setback over forest clearance . .Financial Express, The . .Bhubaneswar . . . . .Declarative . . . . . .Colour Setback in Orissa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Hindustan Times . . . . . . .Undated . . . . . . . . .Declarative . . . . . .Straight Govt panel says no to Vedanta mining project . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Hindustan Times . . . . . . .New Delhi . . . . . . . .Label . . . . . . . . . . .Straight How Orissa tried to mislead Vedanta panel members . . . . . . . . .Hindustan Times . . . . . . .New Delhi . . . . . . . .Declarative . . . . . .Colour After Posco, Vedanta: panel tells Govt don’t let them mine . . . .Indian Express, The . . . . .New Delhi / B’swar .Declarative . . . . . .Colour Govt panel turns down Vedanta mining project . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Mint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .New Delhi . . . . . . . .Declarative . . . . . .Colour Panel nails Vedanta lie, project hits the rock . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Pioneer, The . . . . . . . . . .New Delhi . . . . . . . .Declarative . . . . . .Colour Govt panel nixes Vedanta project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Statesman, The . . . . . . . .New Delhi . . . . . . . .Declarative . . . . . .Colour Shut Vedanta mines: Panel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Times of India, The . . . . .New Delhi . . . . . . . .Label . . . . . . . . . . .Colour Vedanta panel doesn’t seek prosecution of guilty . . . . . . . . . . . .Times of India, The . . . . .New Delhi . . . . . . . .Label . . . . . . . . . . .Colour CENTRAL PLANS TO CHECK ILLEGAL MINING Bill to stop illegal mining on anvil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Asian Age, The . . . . . . . .New Delhi . . . . . . . .Label . . . . . . . . . . .Straight Govt nod to mines probe commission . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Asian Age, The . . . . . . . .New Delhi . . . . . . . .Label . . . . . . . . . . .Straight Minister for non-clearances . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Business Standard . . . . .Mumbai . . . . . . . . . .Declarative . . . . . .Colour States may get say in grant of coal mines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Daily News & Analysis . . .New Delhi . . . . . . . .Label . . . . . . . . . . .Straight Don’t mine it, Ramesh tells Raman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Daily News & Analysis . . .New Delhi . . . . . . . .Label . . . . . . . . . . .Straight Centre to bring law to check illegal mining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Deccan Chronicle . . . . . .New Delhi . . . . . . . .Label . . . . . . . . . . .Straight Commission to probe mining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Deccan Herald . . . . . . . . .New Delhi / B’lore . .Label . . . . . . . . . . .Colour Move on mining fails to enthuse State Congress . . . . . . . . . . . .Deccan Herald . . . . . . . . .New Delhi . . . . . . . .Declarative . . . . . .Colour Govt sets up panel to check illegal mining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Financial Chronicle . . . . .New Delhi . . . . . . . .Label . . . . . . . . . . .Straight Tribals to get 26% from mining profits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Financial Chronicle . . . . .Undated . . . . . . . . .Label . . . . . . . . . . .Straight Mining a solution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Financial Express, The . .Undated . . . . . . . . .Declarative . . . . . .Colour Govt promises 26% mining profit share to tribals . . . . . . . . . . . .Financial Express, The . .New Delhi . . . . . . . .Label . . . . . . . . . . .Straight Commission set up to check illegal mining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Financial Express, The . .New Delhi . . . . . . . .Label . . . . . . . . . . .Straight Mine moments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Indian Express, The . . . . .Undated . . . . . . . . .Declarative . . . . . .Colour Govt plans 26% of mining profits for tribals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Indian Express, The . . . . .New Delhi . . . . . . . .Label . . . . . . . . . . .Straight Karnataka justifies iron ore export ban . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Indian Express, The . . . . .Bengaluru . . . . . . . .Label . . . . . . . . . . .Straight Regulatory authority to check illegal mining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .New Indian Express, The New Delhi . . . . . . . .Label . . . . . . . . . . .Straight No ban on iron ore export . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Statesman, The . . . . . . . .New Delhi . . . . . . . .Label . . . . . . . . . . .Straight Bellary effect? Panel to probe mining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Times of India, The . . . . .New Delhi . . . . . . . .Declarative . . . . . .Straight

NEWS MEDIA CONTENT ANALYSIS REPORTS

NEWSWATCH CONTENTIOUS SERIES

11


Undermined How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue

Vedanta's aluminium refinery in Lanjigarh, above, seeks access to local bauxite.

 INTROS, QUOTES, REPORTAGE GAPS

the “controversial” project had “run into rough weather”.

 Reason given in intro There were some newspapers which gave the reason for the committee’s recommendations in the intro itself. Others held it back till a subsequent paragraph. The Asian Age (as did Deccan Chronicle, its sister publication) gave the reason as mining being  Problem with headlines done in forest land without the consent of local communities. There were problems with some headlines in that they were Business Standard did not have a reason in the intro, citing it only misleading. The Asian Age headline ‘Panel to stop Vedanta mining’ at the end of a longish third para. the Deccan Herald said the gave the wrong impression that the panel itself would be putting a mining rights would remain suspended till the forest rights of the stop to mining in Lanjigarh. The panel, however, had two communities were settled. The Daily News & only made recommendations; it would have been up Analysis and the Statesman pointed out that there Phase II: Submission of had been violations of a series of laws in collusion to the government on act on them and stop mining the Saxena Committee with state officials. The Economic Times did not activities there. The Daily News & Analysis too said report in August ‘Panel stops Vedanta’s Orissa project’. It was provide any reason in the intro, or explicitly state any misleading for the same reason. later. All reasons were implicit. Neither did Financial Chronicle, the Financial Express or Mint, all of which had a second  Impact on Vedanta para with an implicit reason. Hindustan Times said there had been Most newspapers used descriptors that could construed as being violations of various laws, while the Indian Express went a step sympathetic to Vedanta, and that it was the UK-based company ahead to say there had been violations of environmental laws. The that was being wronged, and not the tribals living in the area. The Times of India gave a number of reasons including violations of Asian Age descibed the submission of the report as a “setback” to several laws, encroaching upon government land, getting Vedanta. Both Business Standard and Daily News & Analysis clearances based on submission of false information, and building described the report as a “blow”, while Deccan Herald thought it its refinery illegally. The Pioneer did not give an explicit reason. would “jeopardise” the company’s plans. The Financial Express The panel had, in fact, cited a number of reasons. Only the said it had suffered a “serious setback”, Mint reported that the reason ascribed by DeccanHerald was wrong in that it was company was “in trouble again”, and the Pioneer concurred that incomplete – regarding the enforcement of the Forest Rights Act, The study looked at every possible element of a story – from headlines and intros to quotes and gaps. Of the 17 newspapers surveyed, three – the Assam Tribune, the New Indian Express, and the Telegraph had not carried the story in the main editions.

12

NEWSWATCH CONTENTIOUS SERIES

NEWS MEDIA CONTENT ANALYSIS REPORTS


Undermined How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue

the committee had said the Ministry should not give clearance to the project unless three conditions were met. It had insisted that all and not any one of the conditions would have to be satisfied.  Name of company A number of entities are involved in the refinery and mining projects. Different newspapers used different names as identifier. Asian Age, The: Vedanta Aluminium Limited Business Standard: Vedanta Resources Limited, subsequently Vedanta-owned Sterlite Industries Daily News & Analysis: Vedanta Deccan Chronicle: Same as Asian Age Deccan Herald: Vedanta group Economic Times, The: Vedanta Financial Chronicle: Vedanta Resources Financial Express, The: Vedanta Resources Hindustan Times: Vedanta Resources Indian Express, The: Vedanta Resources Mint: Vedanta Resources Plc Pioneer, The: Vedanta, subsequently, Sterlite Industries of India Limited Statesman, The: Vedanta Times of India, The: Vedanta

Daily News & Analysis: Four-member NC Saxena panel Deccan Chronicle: Same as Asian Age Deccan Herald: Government panel, head by NAC member Saxena Economic Times, The: NC Saxena panel Financial Chronicle: NC Saxena panel Financial Express, The: Four-member committee headed by NC Saxena. Other members also named. Hindustan Times: NC Saxena committee Indian Express, The: Expert panel, head by NAC member Saxena Mint: Four-member committee, head by NAC member Saxena Pioneer, The: Four-member panel, head by NAC member Saxena Statesman, The: Four-member panel, head by NAC member Saxena Times of India, The: Four-member panel, head by NAC member Saxena The Financial Express and the Pioneer were the only ones to mention that the committee had submitted a 119-page report.  Decision that was to be taken In the backdrop of such a scathing report being submitted by the

THE COMPANIES INVOLVED Vedanta Resources Plc (Vedanta Resources) is a metals and mining group, headquartered in London, United Kingdom. The company was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in December 2003. Sterlite Industries India Limited (Sterlite India) is headquartered in Mumbai. Sterlite India has been a public listed company in India since 1988. Vedanta Resources owns 59.9 per cent of Sterlite India and has management control of the company. Vedanta Aluminium Limited (Vedanta Aluminium) is headquartered in Lanjigarh, Orissa. Vedanta Resources owns 70.5 per cent of the share capital and Sterlite India owns the remaining 29.5 per cent. Orissa Mining Corporation, wholly owned by the State of Orissa, mines chrome, iron and manganese, and has joint ventures with major mining companies to mine iron ore and bauxite. South-west Orissa Bauxite Mining Corporation is a joint venture formed in 2009, of which Sterlite India would hold 74 per cent shares and Orissa Mining Corporation 26 per cent, to mine bauxite in Niyamgiri for the next 25 years.

 The panel and its report The committee, constituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in June 2010, was mandated to examine, in detail, the proposal submitted by the Orissa Mining Corporation Limited, under the provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, for diversion of 660.749 ha of forest land for the Lanjigarh bauxite mines in the Kalahandi and Rayagada districts of Orissa. The committee comprised Dr NC Saxena, IAS (Retd), Member, National Advisory Council; Prof S Parasuraman, Director, Tata Institute of Social Sciences; Dr Promode Kant, Indian Forest Service (Retd); and Dr Amita Baviskar, Associate Professor of Sociology, Institute of Economic Growth. Most of the 14 newspapers, which carried the story, described the constitution of the panel in different ways. Only two mentioned names of all four members. Asian Age, The: Vedanta Four-member committee Business Standard: Four-member committee headed by NC Saxena. Other members also named.

NEWS MEDIA CONTENT ANALYSIS REPORTS

Saxena Committee, the question of the final decision was crucial to the story. Only six of the 14 newspapers said that the Ministry of Environment and Forests would take a decision after the Forest Advisory Committee had made its recommendations based on the findings of the four-member Saxena Committee – Business Standard, Daily News & Analysis, Financial Chronicle, Hindustan Times, the Indian Express, Mint, and the Statesman.  Reactions to the findings of the report Quotes were missing from the stories of most newspapers. Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh was quoted about the Saxena Committee report in Business Standard, the Economic Times, Hindustan Times, the Indian Express, and Mint. Business Standard also quoted Vedanta’s Executive Chairman Anil Agarwal, and the Chief Operating Officer of Vedanta Aluminium Ltd Mukesh Kumar. Hindustan Times carried Agarwal’s reaction to agencies, while Financial Chronicle and Mint were told by Vedanta officials thay could not comment till they had seen the report. The only rhetorical comment was in the Business

NEWSWATCH CONTENTIOUS SERIES

13


Undermined How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue

A woman of the Dongria Kondh tribe attends a gathering on top of the Niyamgiri mountain.

Standard where Agarwal said, “We will comply with all the guidelines; not a blade of grass has been removed so far. We can only start when we have clearance. The government has to take a call on what is the best for the country.” Though the Saxena Committee report had carried pictures of such violations, Agarwal was not questioned about them. Panel member Pramod Kant was quoted by the Economic Times. The panel chairman, NC Saxena, was not quoted by anyone even though he was present at the press conference where the findings of the report were announced.  Earlier panel and Supreme Court order The Financial Chronicle story mentioned the earlier panel which had in March 2010 indicted Vedanta for violating environmental laws and not considered the impact of mining on local people. So did Mint. The terms of reference for the panel were mentioned only by Financial Chronicle and the Pioneer. Hindustan Times was the only newspaper to say that an earlier Supreme Court order on mining by Vedanta had not taken away the ministry’s power to review its earlier decision, thereby turning Saxena Committee findings vital for future of the mining project.  The Posco backdrop to Vedanta The stop-work order on the Posco project in Orissa earlier in August was highlighted in Business Standard, the Indian Express (which even mentioned it in the headline), and Statesman (which made a passing mention about resistance from locals. The Times of India provided a more development vs enviromnent backdrop (with environment seemingly coming across as anti-development)

14

NEWSWATCH CONTENTIOUS SERIES

with a chunky paragraph in bold: The report, which could lead to shutting down of the Vedanta smelters in Orissa, comes after the MoEF moved to stop or stall several high-profile projects, including the Posco integrated steel project in Orissa, which, at Rs 56,000 crore is the single-largest foreign direct investment in India, the Jindal thermal power plant in Chhattisgarh (Rs 10,000 crore), dams on the Bhagirathi in Uttarakhand and the Navi Mumbai airport (Rs 7,972 crore).  Vedanta investments The investments made by Vedanta was not carried by most. The Asian Age (and Deccan Chronicle) talked of the Rs 4,500 crore refinery, Deccan Herald of the Rs 8,400 crore bauxite mine, and the Pioneer of the Rs 4000 crore refinery.  Violations of the forest rights and environmental laws The Saxena Committee had come down heavily on violations of the Forest Rights Act, especially the fact that the consent of the local communities had not been taken. This point was emphasised only in the Asian Age (and Deccan Chronicle) (in the intro itself), Business Standard, the Economic Times, the Financial Express, Mint, and the Pioneer. The 119-page report of the committee had also flayed Vedanta’s violations of environmental norms in collusion with state agencies and officials in Orissa. Vedanta, it stressed, had consistently violated provisions of the Forest Conservation Act, the Forest Rights Act, the Envronment Protection Act and the Orissa Forest Act. This aspect was emphasised in the Asian Age (and Deccan

NEWS MEDIA CONTENT ANALYSIS REPORTS


Undermined How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue

Chronicle), Business Standard (as the second-most important reason), the Economic Times (implicit as the main reason, substantiating the intro), the Financial Express, the Indian Express, Mint, the Pioneer, and the Statesman. The Indian Express described the panel’s point as an allegation.  Extra capacity and extra land for refinery The fact that the committee had noticed violations of laws not only in the case of the mining project, but also that the refinery had occupied 26.1 hectares of forest land was mentioned only by nine newspapers – the Asian Age, Business Standard, Daily News & Analysis, Deccan Chronicle, the Economic Times, the Indian Express, Mint, the Pioneer, and the Statesman. Among these, Business Standard, Daily News & Analysis, the Indian Express, and the Pioneer underlined the fact that the bauxite mining was linked to the company’s refinery project. The panel had recommended that the clearance to the refinery too be withdrawn. Only Business Standard mentioned this point in its report. The Economic Times was the only one to point out that the refinery was subject to clearances already given by the Ministry. Ony six newspapers reported that the refinery had started work on expanding its capacity six-fold to 6 MTPA (million tonnes per annum) without obtaining the requisite clearances – Business Standard, the Economic Times, the Financial Express, Hindustan Times, the Indian Express, and the Pioneer. In this context, only the Deccan Herald said that the committee had urged the Ministry not to trust the documents that were being filed by Vedanta. What the committee had also stated clearly in its report that the 72 million tonne ore deposit would last only about four years for the increased needs of the expanded refinery. In balance against this were the severe adverse consequences on the primitive tribal people, environment, forests and wildlife that inhabit these forests. The four-year factor were mentioned only by Business Standard and the Pioneer. Both, however, ignored the balance factor.  The last word In its recommendations, the report had underlined, “In view of the above this Committee is of the firm view that allowing mining in the proposed mining lease area by depriving two Primitive Tribal Groups of their rights over the proposed mining site in order to benefit a private company would shake the faith of tribal people in the laws of the land which may have serious consequences for the security and well being of the entire country.” Most newspapers reported it verbatim. The ones that carried it were the Asian Age, Business Standard (mentioned as the first reason for clearance withdrawal), Daily News & Analysis (mentioned in continuance of the intro), Deccan Herald, Financial Chronicle (implied as the main reason), the Financial Express , Hindustan Times, the Indian Express, Mint, the Pioneer (a

NEWS MEDIA CONTENT ANALYSIS REPORTS

paraphrased version), and the Statesman The Asian Age story quoted this as “the report added”. The Saxena Committee, in fact, had concluded thus.  Asides and backdrops While the committee looked into the current state of affairs and laid threadbare its findings, the report had also outlined a number of other actors that constituted the backdrop. Business Standard, the Economic Times and the Pioneer mentioned the report’s emphasis on the rights of the Dongria Kondh to forest produce. Daily News & Analysis, the Indian Express and the Pioneer emphasised that the very survival of the Dongria Kondh tribe was

at stake because of the mining project. Business Standard, the Daily News & Analysis and the Pioneer also dwelt on the impact on species and an elephant corridor thhe project would have.  Other elements Financial Chronicle mentioned denials of human rights violations by Vedanta at the July shareholders meeting in London. Business Standard mentioned the panel had recommended that the Ministry should engage a professional authority to assist the people in filing their claims under the community clause.

NEWSWATCH CONTENTIOUS SERIES

15


Undermined How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue

Phase III: Rejection of environmental clearance by ministry n August 24, 2010, the Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh, announced in New Delhi that the government had rejected the forest clearance to Vedanta for bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri hills. This was the news trigger for the third phase of the study. In this phase, the same 17 newspapers were studied as in Phase II. All the dailies were studied by accessing the PDF versions of

O

editions dated August 25 on their respective websites. In all, 51 distinct news items were spotted in these 17 newspapers. Of these, 16 were about the news-break; the rest were related stories, interviews, editorials. The maximum number of stories were published by the Financial Express, which carried eight items in all. Only the Assam Tribune covered the story with an agency creed; the rest did so with own staffers.

PHASE III: NUMBER OF STORIES PUBLISHED BY INDIVIDUAL NEWSPAPERS Publication

Main story

Editorial

Interview

Others

Total

Asian Age, The . . . . . . . . . . . . .0 Assam Tribune, the . . . . . . . . . .1 Business Standard . . . . . . . . . . .1 Daily News & Analysis . . . . . . . .1 Deccan Chronicle . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Deccan Herald . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Economic Times, The . . . . . . . .1 Financial Chronicle . . . . . . . . . .1 Financial Express, The . . . . . . .1 Hindustan Times . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Indian Express, The . . . . . . . . . .1 Mint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 New Indian Express, The . . . . . .1 Pioneer, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Statesman, The . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Telegraph, The . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Times of India, The . . . . . . . . . .1

. . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .0

. . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .0

. . . . . . . . . . . .2 . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .3 . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .2 . . . . . . . . . . . .2 . . . . . . . . . . . .2 . . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . . . .5 . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .2 . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . . . .3

. . . . . . . . . . .2 . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . . .4 . . . . . . . . . . .2 . . . . . . . . . . .3 . . . . . . . . . . .3 . . . . . . . . . . .5 . . . . . . . . . . .2 . . . . . . . . . . .8 . . . . . . . . . . .2 . . . . . . . . . . .5 . . . . . . . . . . .3 . . . . . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . . . . .2 . . . . . . . . . . .2 . . . . . . . . . . .2 . . . . . . . . . . .4

TOTAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 . . . . . . . . . . . .5 . . . . . . . . . . . .5 . . . . . . . . . . .25 . . . . . . . . . .51

FOR THE FIRE IN THE HEARTH: A woman from the Dongria Kondh tribe carries firewood as other members of the tribe gather on Niyamgiri mountain. Photo: Reuters

 DISPLAY OF THE MAIN STORY Of the 17 newspapers that were studied in this phase, the story was the front page lead in as many as 11 of them. There were two which carried on the front page, but around the fold – the Indian Express (as de facto lead, more prominent than the top spread), the Daily News and Analysis, and the Telegraph. Deccan Chroncile carried the story as a top single. The Assam Tribune buried it around the fold of its business page. The Asian Age did not carry the story in its main edition. The Financial Express had an entire inside page devoted to the issue. All the five business newspapers studied carried the main story as their front page lead.

PHASE III: DISPLAY OF MAIN STORY Publication

The Financial Express inside page.

16

NEWSWATCH CONTENTIOUS SERIES

Display

Asian Age, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Not carried Assam Tribune, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Business page; middle Business Standard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; lead Daily News & Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; middle Deccan Chronicle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; top Deccan Herald . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; lead Economic Times, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; lead Financial Chronicle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; lead Financial Express, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; lead Hindustan Times . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; lead Indian Express, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; middle Mint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; lead New Indian Express, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; lead Pioneer, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; lead Statesman, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; lead Telegraph, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; middle Times of India, The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Front page; lead

NEWS MEDIA CONTENT ANALYSIS REPORTS


Undermined How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue  OVERVIEW OF MAIN, RELATED STORIES

two London, two Mumbai / London, one Kolkata, one Lanjigarh, The 17 newspapers surveyed carried 16 news-breaks; the Asian Age and one undated. Business Standard was the only newspaper to did not carry any. Of these, 14 were datelined New Delhi, and two carry any related story from Lanjigarh, the focal point. The New Delhi / Bhubaneswar. As many as 14 had ‘declarative’ Telegraph carried an FAQ on the issue. headlines; only two were ‘label’ headlines. Except one All editorials had ‘declarative’ headlines. Four of Phase III: Rejection of the interviews had a quote for a headline. Of the 24 (Financial Express), all other stories had colourful environmental tones to carry degrees. related items, only seven went in for ‘declarative’ clearance by ministry headlines while 15 were ‘labels’. One each were a Of the rest 35 items, editorials and interviews were five each, and there was a standalone question and a quote. However, only six of these were infographic on the subject. The rest were allied stories. Of these, seen to be straight items; all the others had elements of colour in seven were datelined New Delhi, six Bhubaneswar, four Mumbai, , varying degrees.

PHASE III: OVERVIEW OF THE MAIN STORIES AND INTERVIEWS, EDITORIALS Headline

Publication

Dateline

Headline Type

Tone

Assam Tribune, The Business Standard Deccan Chronicle Deccan Herald Daily News & Analysis Economic Times, The Financial Chronicle Financial Express, The Hindustan Times Indian Express, The Mint New Indian Express Pioneer, The Statesman, The Telegraph, The Times of India, The

New Delhi New Delhi / B’swar New Delhi New Delhi New Delhi New Delhi New Delhi New Delhi New Delhi New Delhi New Delhi B’swar / New Delhi New Delhi New Delhi New Delhi New Delhi

Label Declarative Declarative Declarative Declarative Declarative Declarative Label Declarative Declarative Declarative Declarative Declarative Declarative Declarative Declarative

Colour Colour Colour Colour Colour Colour Colour Straight Colour Colour Colour Colour Colour Colour Colour Colour

Asian Age, The Asian Age, The Business Standard Business Standard Business Standard Deccan Chronicle Deccan Chronicle Deccan Herald Deccan Herald Daily News & Analysis Economic Times, The Economic Times, The Economic Times, The Economic Times, The Financial Chronicle Financial Express, The Financial Express, The Financial Express, The Financial Express, The Financial Express, The Financial Express, The Financial Express, The Hindustan Times, The Indian Express, The Indian Express, The Indian Express, The Indian Express, The Mint Mint Pioneer, The Statesman, The Telegraph, The Times of India, The Times of India, The Times of India, The

Bhubaneswar London Lanjigarh Bhubaneswar Kolkata Bhubaneswar London New Delhi New Delhi Undated New Delhi New Delhi Undated Undated Mumbai / London Bhubaneswar New Delhi Undated Undated Mumbai Mumbai Undated Undated Bhubaneswar Undated Mumbai Undated New Delhi Undated New Delhi Mumbai / London Undated Bhubaneswar New Delhi Mumbai

Label Label Label Label Declarative Label Label Label Declarative Declarative Declarative Declarative Declarative Declarative Label Declarative Quote NA Quote Label Label Declarative Quote Label Declarative Label Quote Quote Declarative Declarative Label Label Question Label Declarative

Straight Colour Colour Colour Colour Straight Colour Colour Colour Colour Colour Colour Colour Colour Colour Colour Colour NA Colour Straight Colour Colour Colour Straight Colour Straight Colour Colour Colour Colour Straight Colour Colour Colour Colour

THE MAIN STORY Govt rejects environment clearance to Vedanta Ramesh axes Vedanta bauxite project Jairam stops Vedanta’s mine project Centre scuppers Vedanta plans Dr No shoots down Vedanta Jairam puts last nail in Vedanta’s India plans Ramesh spikes Vedanta’s Orissa project Centre rejects Vedanta’s mine, plans penal action Green ministry seals Vedanta’s Orissa fate Jairam rejects Vedanta mining plan Vedanta’s Orissa project nixed Vedanta stands rejected Centre nixes Vedanta's dream Odisha project Vedanta project fails environment test Jairam smiles & stings Vedanta Govt denies green signal to Vedanta mining plan OTHER STORIES Vedanta denies mining violation British groups welcome Centre’s Vedanta decision Tribals at Niyamgiri feel only half the battle won Orissa govt may move SC or approach PM Vedanta expects Orissa govt to take initiative Vedanta denies mining violation British groups welcome Centre’s Vedanta decision Green activists hail Centre’s decision Orissa govt decries move We can’t get away from eco concerns (E) Putting environment on the centre stage Home hopes to gain brownie points Industry needs an image makeover (I) Well done, Jairam Take Care Of Growth As Well (E) Vedanta slips 7% on LSE, Sterlite dips 4% on BSE Orissa has few options for saving refinery Vedanta, state in collusion: Saxena Our resources: Mining snapshot (G) Allegations of violating forest laws are baseless (I) Vedanta, Sterlite, Sesa Goa scrips decline Move unfortunate&surprising, says Orissa So what’s a good mining site, Rahulji? (E) Faith in law of land restored (I) Naveen hopes no ‘politics’ in Vedanta decision Digging for facts (E) Vedanta stock dips over 7.2 pc on LSE ‘Now, Orissa govt will have to source bauxite for us..’ (I) Every law has been complied with (I) A rule, not an exception (E) Vedanta: Green lobby thumbs-up Ramesh Shares plung Veto on Vedanta mining project Is Orissa tribal vote a factor behind heat on Vedanta? Centre not to push for prosecution of officials Vedanta stock tumbles 8% on mining ban E: Editorial, I: Interview; G: Infographic (standalone)

NEWS MEDIA CONTENT ANALYSIS REPORTS

NEWSWATCH CONTENTIOUS SERIES

17


Undermined How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue

i) ii) iii) iv) v) vi)

Deccan Herald: Centre scuppers Vedanta plans Mint: Vedanta’s Orissa project nixed New Indian Express, The: Vedanta stands rejected Pioneer, The: Centre nixes Vedanta's dream Odisha project Statesman, The: Vedanta project fails environment test Times of India, the: Govt denies green signal to Vedanta mining plan

 “Inside” the main stories I) THE ASIAN AGE The paper did not carry the story in its main edition.

LEFT OUT: The Dongria Kondh were conspicuous by their absence from the coverage of the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue in the print media. Photo: Reuters

 REPORTAGE GAPS AND SLANTS This phase of the study also looked at every possible element of a story – from headlines and intros to quotes and gaps. Of the 51 news items that were identified, 16 were the main news story about the Vedanta clearance rejection. Editorials and interviews were five each, and there was one standalone infographic. The rest were additional stories related to the main one.  The emphasis of the main story headlines Except three (the Assam Tribune, the Financial Express, and the Indian Express), all the newspapers carried headlines that were ‘declarative’ in that they emphasised one point or the other. As many as seven headlines featured Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh. The headlines gave the impression that it was Ramesh vs Vedanta: i) Business Standard: Ramesh axes Vedanta bauxite project ii) Deccan Chronicle: Jairam stops Vedanta’s mine project iii) Daily News & Analysis: Dr No shoots down Vedanta iv) Economic Times, The: Jairam puts last nail in Vedanta’s India plans v) Financial Chronicle: Ramesh spikes Vedanta’s Orissa project vi) Indian Express, The: Jairam rejects Vedanta mining plan vii) Telegraph, The: Jairam smiles & stings Vedanta Another headline, substituted the ministry for the minister: i) Hindustan Times: Green ministry seals Vedanta’s Orissa fate The other headlines too either pitted the Centre against Vedanta, or just said it had upset Vedanta’s plans.

18

NEWSWATCH CONTENTIOUS SERIES

II) THE ASSAM TRIBUNE Language used for impact on Vedanta: It was a “setback” What were the reasons: Serious violation of forest and environment laws; cited in intro Which clearance was not granted: Stage II forest clearance for the State-owned Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) and Sterlite Bauxite mining project Attorney-General had been consulted: Not mentioned How was the decision taken: Ministry accepted the recommendations of the Forest Advisory Committee Showcause to Vedanta over expansion of refinery: Not mentioned Vedanta can appeal against the decision: Not mentioned Quote of Jairam Ramesh: Yes Quotes of environmentalists: None Reaction from Vedanta: None Reaction from Orissa officials: Minister for Industries and Steel and Mines, Raghunath Mishra Worth of bauxite project: $ 1.7 billion Stock market impact: Not mentioned Posco steel plant project: Not mentioned Districts involved: Lanjigarh, Kalahandi and Rayagada Impact on Dongria Kondh people: Not mentioned Colour: None beyond intro III) BUSINESS STANDARD Language used for impact on Vedanta: It was a “setback” What were the reasons: None mentioned clearly in the beginning. Only the eighth para quoted the Union Minister as saying that the Orissa government had violated the Forest Rights Act and that Vedanta Resources the Environment Protection Act. Which clearance was not granted: Stage II forest clearance for the State-owned Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) and Sterlite Bauxite mining project Attorney-General had been consulted: Not mentioned How was the decision taken: Ministry accepted the recommendations of the Forest Advisory Committee, which acted on the suggestions made by the NC Saxena Committee Showcause to Vedanta over expansion of refinery: Yes, with relevant background Vedanta can appeal against the decision: Not mentioned Quote of Jairam Ramesh: Quoted extensively throughout Quotes of environmentalists: None Reaction from Vedanta: None Reaction from Orissa officials: Minister for Industries and Steel and Mines, Raghunath Mishra Worth of bauxite project: $ 1.7 billion (Rs 7,820 cr) Stock market impact: Vedanta and Sterlite shares fell Posco steel plant project: Not mentioned Districts involved: Lanjigarh, Kalahandi and Rayagada Impact on Dongria Kondh people: Mentioned, as cited by the Saxena Committee Colour: None beyond intro IV) DAILY NEWS & ANALYSIS Language used for impact on Vedanta: The “axe” fell on it What were the reasons: None mentioned clearly in the beginning. Allusion to NC Saxena Committee report later

NEWS MEDIA CONTENT ANALYSIS REPORTS


Undermined How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue Which clearance was not granted: Stage II forest clearance for the State-owned Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) and Sterlite Bauxite mining project Attorney-General had been consulted: Not mentioned How was the decision taken: Not stated clearly. Just that the government decision followed a scathing report by the NC Saxena Committee Showcause to Vedanta over expansion of refinery: Mentioned Vedanta can appeal against the decision: Not mentioned Quote of Jairam Ramesh: Quoted Quotes of environmentalists: Greenpeace campaigner Reaction from Vedanta: None Reaction from Orissa officials: Minister for Industries and Steel and Mines, Raghunath Mishra Worth of bauxite project: Vedanta was to invest Rs 37,440 crore in the Niyamgiri project Stock market impact: No mention Posco steel plant project: Passing mention Districts involved: Not mentioned Impact on Dongria Kondh people: Not mentioned Colour: Loaded first two paragraphs; used throughout

VII) ECONOMIC TIMES, THE Language used for impact on Vedanta: Plans “under siege”; back-breaking blow What were the reasons: None clearly stated. All points pertained to refinery, not mine Which clearance was not granted: Not stated Attorney-General had been consulted: Not mentioned How was the decision taken: Not mentioned Showcause to Vedanta over expansion of refinery: Mentioned in intro Vedanta can appeal against the decision: Not mentioned Quote of Jairam Ramesh: Quoted Quotes of environmentalists: None Reaction from Vedanta: None Reaction from Orissa officials: None Worth of bauxite project: Not mentioned Stock market impact: Vedanta and Sterlite shares fell Posco steel plant project: Not mentioned Districts involved: Not mentioned Impact on Dongria Kondh people: Not mentioned Colour: Colourful phrases used in every para

V) DECCAN CHRONICLE Language used for impact on Vedanta: None mentioned What were the reasons: Serious violations of the Environment Protection Act and the Forest Rights Act Which clearance was not granted: Stage II forest clearance for the State-owned Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) and Sterlite Bauxite mining project Attorney-General had been consulted: Not mentioned How was the decision taken: Decision taken on basis of recommendations of Forest Advisory Committee, following submission of the NC Saxena Committee report Showcause to Vedanta over expansion of refinery: Mentioned Vedanta can appeal against the decision: Not mentioned Quote of Jairam Ramesh: Quoted Quotes of environmentalists: None Reaction from Vedanta: None Reaction from Orissa officials: None Worth of bauxite project: None mentioned Stock market impact: No mention Posco steel plant project: Not mentioned Districts involved: Lanjigarh, Kalahandi and Rayagada Impact on Dongria Kondh people: Not mentioned Colour: Marginal, including description as “an unprecedented decision” in the intro

VIII) FINANCIAL CHRONICLE Language used for impact on Vedanta: It was a “setback” What were the reasons: Serious violation of forest and environment laws Which clearance was not granted: Forest and environment clearance Attorney-General had been consulted: Not mentioned How was the decision taken: Decision based on NC Saxena panel recommendations, (wrongly mentioned as) auditor-general’s report, and recommendations by Forest Advisory Committee Showcause to Vedanta over expansion of refinery: Mentioned Vedanta can appeal against the decision: Not mentioned Quote of Jairam Ramesh: Quoted Quotes of environmentalists: None Reaction from Vedanta: Vedanta Aluminium COO Mukesh Kumar; company statement Reaction from Orissa officials: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Minister for Industries and Steel and Mines, Raghunath Mishra; Orissa’s resident commissioner in Delhi, Sunil Kumar Bhargava Worth of bauxite project: Not mentioned Stock market impact: Not mentioned Posco steel plant project: Passing mention Districts involved: Not mentioned Impact on Dongria Kondh people: Not mentioned Colour: Colourful phrases used liberally

VI) DECCAN HERALD Language used for impact on Vedanta: None mentioned What were the reasons: Violation of laws on environment protection and thereby upholding the tribal community's natural rights Which clearance was not granted: Forest clearance for the bauxite mining project Attorney-General had been consulted: Mentioned How was the decision taken: Decision taken on basis of recommendations of Forest Advisory Committee, following submission of the NC Saxena Committee report Showcause to Vedanta over expansion of refinery: Mentioned Vedanta can appeal against the decision: Mentioned Quote of Jairam Ramesh: Quoted Quotes of environmentalists: None, but copy said that the decision had been welcomed by activists around the world Reaction from Vedanta: None Reaction from Orissa officials: None Worth of bauxite project: Rs 8,400 cr bauxite mine Stock market impact: No mention Posco steel plant project: Passing mention Districts involved: Lanjigarh, Kalahandi and Rayagada Impact on Dongria Kondh people: Passing mention; but intro said the decision had (thereby) upheld the tribal community's natural rights Colour: Minimal

NEWS MEDIA CONTENT ANALYSIS REPORTS

IX) FINANCIAL EXPRESS, THE Language used for impact on Vedanta: Project “scuppered” What were the reasons: Violations of environmental laws Which clearance was not granted: Forest clearance Attorney-General had been consulted: Not mentioned How was the decision taken: Decision based on NC Saxena panel recommendations, auditor-general’s report, and recommendations by Forest Advisory Committee Showcause to Vedanta over expansion of refinery: Mentioned Vedanta can appeal against the decision: Not mentioned Quote of Jairam Ramesh: Quoted Quotes of environmentalists: None Reaction from Vedanta: Company statement Reaction from Orissa officials: None Worth of bauxite project: Not mentioned Stock market impact: Vedanta and Sterlite shares fell Posco steel plant project: Passing mention Districts involved: Not mentioned Impact on Dongria Kondh people: Not mentioned Colour: Colourful phrases used sparingly X) HINDUSTAN TIMES Language used for impact on Vedanta: None used What were the reasons: Violations of the Forest Rights Act, the Forest Conservation Act and the Environment Protection Act Which clearance was not granted: Mining clearance

NEWSWATCH CONTENTIOUS SERIES

19


Undermined How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue Reaction from Orissa officials: None Worth of bauxite project: Not mentioned Stock market impact: Vedanta and Sterlite stocks fell Posco steel plant project: Not mentioned Districts involved: Lanjigarh, Kalahandi and Rayagada Impact on Dongria Kondh people: None mentioned; only that the Niyamgiri hills are home to them Colour: Minimal use XII) MINT Language used for impact on Vedanta: Not mentioned What were the reasons: Serious violations of the Forest Rights Act, the Forest Conservation Act and the Environment Protection Act Which clearance was not granted: None clearly stated Attorney-General had been consulted: Mentioned How was the decision taken: Relied on recent report by former bureaucrat NC Saxena, recommendations of the Forest Advisory Committee and the Attorney-General’s opinion Showcause to Vedanta over expansion of refinery: Mentioned Vedanta can appeal against the decision: Mentioned Quote of Jairam Ramesh: Quoted Quotes of environmentalists: Ritwick Dutta (lawyer) Reaction from Vedanta: Company statement mentioned Reaction from Orissa officials: Could not be reached Worth of bauxite project: $5.4 billion (both projects) Stock market impact: Vedanta and Sterlite stocks fell Posco steel plant project: Not mentioned Districts involved: Not mentioned Impact on Dongria Kondh people: Saxena Committee found that the legitimate claims of the Dongria Kondh had been discouraged and denied without the due process of law Colour: Minimal use LEFT OUT: The Dongria Kondh were conspicuous by their absence from the coverage of the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue in the print media. Photo: Reuters

Attorney-General had been consulted: Mentioned How was the decision taken: Action taken on recommendations of two committees: one headed by National Advisory Council member NC Saxena and the other a Forest Advisory Committee Showcause to Vedanta over expansion of refinery: Mentioned Vedanta can appeal against the decision: Not mentioned Quote of Jairam Ramesh: Quoted Quotes of environmentalists: None Reaction from Vedanta: None Reaction from Orissa officials: None Worth of bauxite project: Not mentioned Stock market impact: Not mentioned Posco steel plant project: Not mentioned Districts involved: Not mentioned Impact on Dongria Kondh people: None mentioned, but they welcomed the decision Colour: Minimal use; only one to call the decision a “landmark judgment” to protect the environment XI) INDIAN EXPRESS, THE Language used for impact on Vedanta: Not mentioned What were the reasons: Violations of the Forest Rights Act, the Forest Conservation Act and the Environment Protection Act Which clearance was not granted: Stage II forest clearance for the State-owned Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) and Sterlite Bauxite mining project Attorney-General had been consulted: Mentioned How was the decision taken: Action based on recommendations of NC Saxena committee and Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) reports, which had concluded that OMC and Vedanta had violated three central laws: Forest Rights Act, Forest Conservation Act and Environment Protection Act Showcause to Vedanta over expansion of refinery: Mentioned Vedanta can appeal against the decision: Not mentioned Quote of Jairam Ramesh: Quoted Quotes of environmentalists: None Reaction from Vedanta: Company statement mentioned

20

NEWSWATCH CONTENTIOUS SERIES

XIII) NEW INDIAN EXPRESS, THE Language used for impact on Vedanta: “Double jolt” for Vedanta What were the reasons: Serious violations of the Forest Rights Act, the Forest Conservation Act and the Environment Protection Act Which clearance was not granted: Stage II forest clearance for the State-owned Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) and Sterlite Bauxite mining project Attorney-General had been consulted: Not mentioned How was the decision taken: Not mentioned Showcause to Vedanta over expansion of refinery: Mentioned Vedanta can appeal against the decision: Not mentioned Quote of Jairam Ramesh: Quoted Quotes of environmentalists: None Reaction from Vedanta: None Reaction from Orissa officials: None Worth of bauxite project: Not mentioned Stock market impact: Not mentioned Posco steel plant project: Not mentioned Districts involved: Not mentioned Impact on Dongria Kondh people: Not mentioned Colour: Emphatic intro XIV) PIONEER,THE Language used for impact on Vedanta: “Dream” received a “blow” What were the reasons: Serious violations of forest and environment laws Which clearance was not granted: Stage II forest clearance for the mining project Attorney-General had been consulted: Not mentioned How was the decision taken: Not mentioned Showcause to Vedanta over expansion of refinery: Mentioned Vedanta can appeal against the decision: Not mentioned Quote of Jairam Ramesh: Quoted Quotes of environmentalists: None Reaction from Vedanta: Quoted Reaction from Orissa officials: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Worth of bauxite project: Not mentioned Stock market impact: Not mentioned Posco steel plant project: Mentioned Districts involved: Not mentioned

NEWS MEDIA CONTENT ANALYSIS REPORTS


Undermined How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue  FOCUS OF OTHER STORIES Most of the 24 other stories centred around Vedanta. Either those were denial of charges (three), or about Vedanta/Sterlite shares dipping at stock exchanges (five). The Orissa government’s plans and reactions accounted for five stories. The decision of the government was welcomed by activists in four of the items. Only one — a profile in the Economic Times

(‘Putting environment on the centre stage’) —was not a hard core news item. There was only one Lanjigarh-datelined story, by Business Standard. This was the only story in over 150 news items looked at during Phases II and III where the local Dongria Kondh tribals were quoted. The study found that their versions of the story was overwhelmingly stifled in the print media, with Vedanta getting more space to substantiate their denial of various charges.

PHASE III: STORIES RELATED TO THE MAIN ITEM AND THEIR NEWS PEGS Headline

Publication

Dateline

Story peg

Vedanta denies mining violation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Asian Age, The . . . . . .Bhubaneswar . . . . . . . .Vedanta’s denial of charges British groups welcome Centre’s Vedanta decision . . . .Asian Age, The . . . . . .London . . . . . . . . . . . . .Reactions to govt decision Tribals at Niyamgiri feel only half the battle won . . . . . .Business Standard . . . .Lanjigarh . . . . . . . . . . .Field story about tribals and Vedanta Orissa govt may move SC or approach PM . . . . . . . . . .Business Standard . . . .Bhubaneswar . . . . . . . .Orissa govt’s future plans Vedanta expects Orissa govt to take initiative . . . . . . . .Business Standard . . . .Kolkata . . . . . . . . . . . . .Vedanta’s denial of charges Vedanta denies mining violation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Deccan Chronicle . . . .Bhubaneswar . . . . . . . .Vedanta’s denial of charges British groups welcome Centre’s Vedanta decision . . . .Deccan Chronicle . . . .London . . . . . . . . . . . . .Reactions to govt decision Green activists hail Centre’s decision . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Deccan Herald . . . . . . .New Delhi . . . . . . . . . .Reactions to govt decision Orissa govt decries move . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Deccan Herald . . . . . . .New Delhi . . . . . . . . . .Orissa govt’s reactions Putting environment on the centre stage . . . . . . . . . . . .Economic Times, The .New Delhi . . . . . . . . . .Profile of Jairam Ramesh Home hopes to gain brownie points . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Economic Times, The .New Delhi . . . . . . . . . .Home ministry’s plans on tribals Vedanta slips 7% on LSE, Sterlite dips 4% on BSE . . . .Financial Chronicle . . .Mumbai / London . . . . .Vedanta shares Orissa has few options for saving refinery . . . . . . . . . . .Financial Express, The Bhubaneswar . . . . . . . .Orissa govt’s future plans Vedanta, state in collusion: Saxena . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Financial Express, The New Delhi . . . . . . . . . .Saxena’s reactions Vedanta, Sterlite, Sesa Goa scrips decline . . . . . . . . . . .Financial Express, The Mumbai . . . . . . . . . . . .Vedanta shares Move unfortunate&surprising, says Orissa . . . . . . . . . . .Financial Express, The Mumbai . . . . . . . . . . . .Orissa govt’s reaction Naveen hopes no ‘politics’ in Vedanta decision . . . . . . .Indian Express, The . . .Bhubaneswar . . . . . . . .Orissa govt’s reaction Vedanta stock dips over 7.2 pc on LSE . . . . . . . . . . . . .Indian Express, The . . .Mumbai . . . . . . . . . . . .Vedanta shares Vedanta: Green lobby thumbs-up Ramesh . . . . . . . . . . .Pioneer, The . . . . . . . .New Delhi . . . . . . . . . .Reactions to govt decision Shares plunge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Statesman, The . . . . . .Mumbai / London . . . . .Vedanta shares Is Orissa tribal vote a factor behind heat on Vedanta? . .Times of India, The . . .Bhubaneswar . . . . . . . .Analysis of govt’s priorities Centre not to push for prosecution of officials . . . . . . . .Times of India, The . . .New Delhi . . . . . . . . . .Elaboration of main story angle Vedanta stock tumbles 8% on mining ban . . . . . . . . . . .Times of India, The . . .Mumbai . . . . . . . . . . . .Vedanta shares Veto on Vedanta mining project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Telegraph, The . . . . . . .Undated . . . . . . . . . . . .FAQs on the project

Impact on Dongria Kondh people: Not mentioned in terms of impact, but that they inhabited the bauxite reserve area Colour: Emphatic intro XIV) STATESMAN, THE Language used for impact on Vedanta: A “major blow” What were the reasons: Serious violations of forest and environment laws Which clearance was not granted: Stage II forest clearance for the State-owned Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) and Sterlite Bauxite mining project Attorney-General had been consulted: Not mentioned How was the decision taken: Decision based on NC Saxena panel’s report, Forest Advisory Committee’s recommendations and Attorney-General’s opinion Showcause to Vedanta over expansion of refinery: Mentioned Vedanta can appeal against the decision: Not mentioned Quote of Jairam Ramesh: Quoted Quotes of environmentalists: None Reaction from Vedanta: Company statement Reaction from Orissa officials: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik; Minister for Industries and Steel and Mines, Raghunath Mishra Worth of bauxite project: Not mentioned Stock market impact: Not mentioned Posco steel plant project: Not mentioned Districts involved: Lanjigarh, Kalahandi and Rayagada Impact on Dongria Kondh people: Not mentioned Colour: Minimal use XVI) TELEGRAPH, THE Language used for impact on Vedanta: “Vetoed” by Ramesh What were the reasons: Multiple law violations Which clearance was not granted: Not mentioned Attorney-General had been consulted: Not mentioned

NEWS MEDIA CONTENT ANALYSIS REPORTS

How was the decision taken: Not mentioned Showcause to Vedanta over expansion of refinery: Not mentioned Vedanta can appeal against the decision: Not mentioned Quote of Jairam Ramesh: Quoted Quotes of environmentalists: None Reaction from Vedanta: Company statement Reaction from Orissa officials: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Worth of bauxite project: Not mentioned Stock market impact: Not mentioned Posco steel plant project: Substantial mention Districts involved: Not mentioned Impact on Dongria Kondh people: Not mentioned Colour: Loaded XVII) TIMES OF INDIA, THE Language used for impact on Vedanta: None What were the reasons: Not mentioned Which clearance was not granted: Not mentioned Attorney-General had been consulted: Not mentioned How was the decision taken: Not mentioned Showcause to Vedanta over expansion of refinery: Mentioned Vedanta can appeal against the decision: Not mentioned Quote of Jairam Ramesh: None Quotes of environmentalists: None Reaction from Vedanta: None Reaction from Orissa officials: None Worth of bauxite project: Not mentioned Stock market impact: Not mentioned Posco steel plant project: Not mentioned Districts involved: Not mentioned Impact on Dongria Kondh people: Not mentioned Colour: Marginal

NEWSWATCH CONTENTIOUS SERIES

21


Undermined How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue

Most newspapers used adjectives or phrasal verbs in their copy. Only Daily News & Analysis story was seen to loaded. After alarming politicians and businessmen with his bark, union environment minister Jairam Ramesh showed he can bite, too. Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik and Vedanta chief Anil Agarwal were the first victims. The two, part of a long list of politicians and business leaders who have found their pet projects held up by Ramesh, were told that the mining project in Niyamgiri was off for flouting ecological and tribal rights policies. In all, Ramesh has blocked 64 projects and kept another 469 waiting for clearance, stepping on the toes of civil aviation minister Praful Patel, surface transport minister Kamal Nath and mines minister Jaiprakash Jaiswal,

among others. The Navi Mumbai airport project will be another test case for Ramesh’s pugnacity. Tuesday was the day the axe fell on Vedanta. Predictably, the move was welcomed by

environmentalists. “For the first time, we have someone who takes his job as environment minister seriously,” says Divya Raghunandan, campaign director for the India unit of Greenpeace, arguably the most vocal eco-activist group in the world. Orissa’s industries, steel and mines minister Raghunath Mohanty, however, was not amused. Ramesh, who took over the ministry a little more than a year ago, has left a sword dangling over many projects, including the Navi Mumbai airport project being pushed by aviation minister Praful Patel and the Tamnar power project by Congress MP Naveen Jindal’s Jindal Power. Also at the receiving end of Ramesh’s tight scrutiny are various projects of Nagarjuna Power, the South Korean steel giant Posco and Aditya Birla group’s UltraTech cement.

“identify if the Forest Rights Act was violated” but instructions like “investigate the impact on the social and cultural life of the Dongaria Kondh”. Regulatory bright lines do not emerge obviously from a sociological investigation. If inquiry of this sort informs a decision — Edit pieces are significant in that they lay down the official stand of and many more might in the future — then it is the decisionmaker that a newspaper on an issue in print. Of the five editorials that were must specify what in the report forced his hand, what is irreparable and what is not. Is it that we cannot confirm that local gram sabhas gave published on August 25, the one in Daily News & Analysis was a their consent? Or that we believe that those bodies were not general one which made passing mention of the Vedanta project. representative—or not fully informed? If so, how to demonstrate that The Economic Times and Mint praised the decision, while the two they are representative and informed? sister publications, the Indian Express and the Financial Express, Mint: But the ministry’s judgement isn’t about choosing conservation over development. Instead, it sets a very interesting precedent. Its lambasted it. rejection of the project is because the company as well as the state Economic Times, The: It is indeed a setback for Vedanta, the government failed to follow the due process of law that governs such company behind both the mining and the refinery projects, but a huge projects. .... The ministry has done well to uphold the process of law. gain for India’s development as a law-abiding nation that optimises Rulebased regimes are the foundation of strong democracies—and growth and welfare over time rather than just for the moment. It is sound market economies. And rule-breakers need to be punished and, possible to raise all kinds of objections to the decision to effectively more importantly, disincentivized. The challenge is to ensure that these scrap the Vedanta projects — all mining projects will be scuttled, standards are strictly adhered to in future. This is growth is being sacrificed for the welfare of a tiny, important because the ministry is already under attack for primitive group, a backward state’s progress is being Phase III: Rejection of allegedly playing favourites when it comes to dealing with curbed, etc. These would be invalid. What finds environmental environmental issues relating to projects located in states expression through the environment ministry’s decision is the democratic essence of this country. The pursuit of clearance by ministry governed by the Congress, the dominant party in the United Progressive Alliance coalition. individual good by millions of people yields collective welfare — this is how a capitalist economy is supposed to function. But these millions do not strive any which way they like: they  Interviews on the issue do so, their conduct modulated by laws and rules that mitigate harm and enhance benefit. Five interviews were published on Financial Express, The: For one, since the company was supposed that day. The Economic Times to get 660.740 hectares of land, getting 26.123 hectares doesn’t seem (‘Industry needs an image that big a transgression. What is more important, however, is that the makeover’) and Hindustan Times company began working in 1997 and got a Supreme Court clearance in August 2008—so when does the process of getting clearances stop, not (‘Faith in law of land restored’ just for Vedanta but for everyone? Of course, the forests have to be carried interviews of NC Saxena, conserved and the livelihood of people protected, and this is what the who had headed the four-member draft mining Act seeks to do—to allot alternate land for afforestation committee. and rehabilitation of affected people. Interestingly, not once in the executive summary, where presumably the most important parts of the The Financial Express expert committee on Vedanta’s report are summarised, does the interviewed Mukesh Kumar, the committee talk of the draft mining Act. It is true the Forests Rights Act Chief Operating Officer of Vedanta seeks to protect the rights of those living in forests and, to quote the Aluminium (‘Allegations of expert committee, it “does not provide for modification of rights for any purpose other than conservation of critical wildlife habitats”. But violating forest laws are baseless’), should an Act that came into force less than three years ago be applied as did the Indian Express (‘Now, to a project that began work 13 years ago? Orissa govt will have to source Indian Express, The: Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh’s press bauxite for us from another conference was monumentally unclear on what violations in particular constituted the bright lines that mean an application stands rejected. source’). Mint also carried an And reading the report on which the decision was—purportedly—based interview of Kumar, that was a doesn’t make anything clearer, either. There are some egregious transcript of what he said on CNBCviolations claimed. And there are some that appear more ideological TV18 (‘Every law has been complied than not—naturally, given the report’s terms of reference were not

 EDITORIALS AND INTERVIEWS

22

NEWSWATCH CONTENTIOUS SERIES

NEWS MEDIA CONTENT ANALYSIS REPORTS


Undermined How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue  STORIES IN THE INTERREGNUM

one to carry an edit page article. The Times of India carried two pieces

This study also looked at stories that were published between August 18 and August 24, 2010 —after the Saxena Committee submitted its report and before the government announced its

that were analyses of the situation. The Pioneer published an item that went behind the headlines and revealed that the Saxena Committee had not only indicted Vedanta and the Orissa government, but had also

decision. In all 79 stories were seen in the same 17 newspapers. Most of these pertained either to general mining issues or the Vedanta takeover of Cairn India. When narrowed down to the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue,

been critical of the Ministry of Environment and Forests itself, besides the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. The biggest Vedanta story in this period was carrying as its front

there were only 16 stories in 17 newspapers over seven days. As many as nine of these were takes of either the Orissa government or Vedanta on the issue. Hindustan Times was the only

page lead by Financial Chronicle that was essentially allegations by the Vedanta Aluminium COO calling Jairam Ramesh an activist. There was nothing newsy about this story.

LEFT OUT: The Dongria Kondh were conspicuous by their absence from the coverage of the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue in the print media. Photo: Reuters

PHASE II - III: OVERVIEW OF ITEMS PUBLISHED IN THE INTERREGNUM Headline

Publication

Edition

Vedanta denies mining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Asian Age, The . . . . .Aug 19 Vedanta issue: Orissa claims discrimination . . . . . . . . . .Asian Age, The . . . . .Aug 20 Vedanta denies mining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Deccan Chronicle . . .Aug 19 Vedanta, Posco won’t back off from Orissa . . . . . . . . . .Financial Chronicle . .Aug 19 Orissa protests Saxena report on Vedanta . . . . . . . . . . .Financial Chronicle . .Aug 18 Mining trouble . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Financial Express . . .Aug 18 Vedanta ready to exit Niyamgiri hills . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Hindustan Times . . . .Aug 18 NAC member trashes Centre’s tribal policy . . . . . . . . . .Hindustan Times . . . .Aug 19 India’s new Avatar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Hindustan Times . . . .Aug 19 Orissa slams panel allegations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Hindustan Times . . . .Aug 20 Jairam to take final call on Vedanta project . . . . . . . . . .Hindustan Times . . . .Aug 21 No mining without approval: Vedanta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Pioneer . . . . . . . . . . .Aug 19 Vedanta report spares none, indicts Odisha, Ministries .Pioneer . . . . . . . . . . .Aug 19 It may be end of road for Vedanta in Orissa . . . . . . . . . .Times of India, the . . .Aug 18 Centre trying to save own skin over Vedanta conflict? . .Times of India, the . . .Aug 21

NEWS MEDIA CONTENT ANALYSIS REPORTS

Dateline

Peg

. . .Bhubaneswar . . . .Vedanta denial of charges . . .New Delhi . . . . . . .Orissa govt's claims . . .Bhubaneswar . . . .Vedanta denial of charges . . .New Delhi . . . . . . .Vedanta calls Ramesh activist . . .Bhubaneswar . . . .Orissa govt's claims . . .Undated . . . . . . . .Pro-industry take on Vedanta . . .New Delhi . . . . . . .Vedanta to shift on alternative . . .New Delhi . . . . . . .Saxena on tribal land-grab . . .Undated . . . . . . . .Edit page article . . .New Delhi . . . . . . .Orissa govt's claims . . .New Delhi . . . . . . .FAC accepts Saxena report . . .New Delhi . . . . . . .Vedanta plans for future . . .New Delhi . . . . . . .Elaboration of Saxena report . . .New Delhi . . . . . . .Analysis of situation . . .New Delhi . . . . . . .Analysis of situation

NEWSWATCH CONTENTIOUS SERIES

23


Undermined How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue

News media coverage: Newswatch is looking for partners ABOUT NEWSWATCH: Newswatch (http://www.newswatch.in/) was launched in August 2005 to serve as an online monitor of press freedom and media ethics issues. It also looks at developments in the news media industry that are of relevance to journalists. Newswatch believes in maintaining its editorial independence. MEDIA COVERAGE: The news media, willy-nilly, makes errors. In other words, these are either errors of omission, or that of commission. Bias, inaccuracies, and fairness are subjects that Newswatch is concerned with. And concerned about, as well. But making accusations in the air, or badmouthing the news media makes no sense in itself. Unless those are rooted in research. Studies are not ends in themselves, but starting points. It is in this backdrop that Newswatch wants to carry out analytical studies of news media coverage of various incidents, and issues that develop over time. Newswatch did a pilot study in February-March on the media coverage of the launch of a Project Tiger report. The report was well received. We now want to do more. But there’s little that one can do alone. That’s why Newswatch needs partners. WHAT NEWSWATCH HAS: Credibility. Newswatch does not accept donations/grants from anyone -- governments and the official machinery, political parties, corporate houses, nongovernmental organisations, security forces. It does not accept individual donations either. The only ones it allies itself with are free speech defenders and journalists' organisations. With everyone else, it can only be project-to-project tie-ups. For news coverage analyses, Newswatch has developed a codebook that has as many as 4000+ parameters on basis of which news items can be marked/judged. This algorithm, of course, is not for sale. WHAT NEWSWATCH IS LOOKING FOR: Newswatch has the technology and the tools. We are looking for one-off alliances with organisations who can provide us with the expertise to study subjects/issues that we are not experts in. We also look forward to organisations who can give us the human resources required for the period of a particular study. Newswatch can also consider sponsorships of projects provided the organisations concerned have a clean track record as far as respecting press freedom is concerned. That aside, Newswatch is open to ideas and opinions. Newswatch also takes up turnkey content analysis projects for organisations.

If you want to take this forward, please revert to: Subir Ghosh Newswatch editor@newswatch.in

PROJECT CREDITS: Study supervisor: Subir Ghosh; Data analyses and research: Alisha Kalra Undermined: How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue. Edited and published by Subir Ghosh for Newswatch (www.newswatch.in). © Newswatch 2010. All rights reserved. Note: Even though efforts have been made to provide accurate information in this report, the publisher would appreciate if readers would call his attention to errors by emailing newswatchindia@gmail.com. Suggestions for future study subjects can be sent to the same email address.

24

NEWSWATCH CONTENTIOUS SERIES

NEWS MEDIA CONTENT ANALYSIS REPORTS

Profile for Newswatch

Undermined  

How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue

Undermined  

How the news media covered the Vedanta/Niyamgiri issue

Profile for newswatch
Advertisement