Alcan Executives Embarassed by Own Irresponsibility in India Investment

For Immediate Release
April 28, 2005

Contact: Patrick Cadorette 514-298-9974

Montreal April 28, 2005 - For the second consecutive year, Alcan Inc. of Montreal was directly confronted at its own Annual General Meeting about its troubled investment in a proposed bauxite mine and alumina refinery in the Kashipur region of Orissa, India. The joint venture with the Aditya Birla group of India goes by the name of Utkal Alumina International Ltd. (UAIL).

Inside the general meeting, Anna Malla, shareholder and member of Alcan't in India. began a barrage of interventions with a resume of the 2004 dialogue between Alcan and the Montreal-based solidarity campaign. Ms. Malla systematically exposed the untruths behind every one of the company's claims about the Kashipur project. She concluded with the question, "How much longer does Alcan plan on misrepresenting the situation to its shareholders and the general public?" Alcan failed to respond to this question.

When CEO Travis Engen claimed that within the last year there has been progress with the UAIL project, Sarah Heiberg, who is another concerned shareholder, concurred. Reading from an article published last week in the Hindu, a major national Indian daily, she emphasized, "Since last year the State has revived the use of force to curb the peoples' struggle," and continued by asking, "Does Alcan realize that its involvement in Kashipur has directly jeopardized its entire sustainability and social responsibility strategy?"

When Alcan executives tried to dismiss the ever-pressing Kashipur case by claiming it to be an "exclusively Indian issue", Tamara Herman who has just returned from a three week fact-finding trip to Kashipur, retorted by saying "this is very much a Montreal issue. It is Montreal-backed financing that is developing the UAIL project, for the sake of Montreal profit." Ms. Herman had also earlier noted that no UAIL official in all of India was willing to communicate with her during her entire stay in India.

At the same time as these clear condemnations inside the meeting, some 80 people rallied outside to discuss and promote the concerns of the peoples of Kashipur, which have been systematically ignored by Alcan. Along with workers from Alcan plants in Kitimat BC and Jonquière QC, who have been actively supporting the Alcan't in India campaign, the demonstrators convened a Peoples' Assembly. Representing the views of villagers, solidarity activists and international supporters, the Assembly demonstrated the clear, consistent and broad-ranging bases for world-wide opposition to Alcan and UAIL.

Shareholders and analysts exiting the AGM were obviously concerned with the issue in India. Most were eager to learn more from members of the campaign, having never been provided with accurate information about the Kashipur case by Alcan.

The Alcan't in India campaign is confident that continued pressure, especially through world-wide solidarity and the continuous dissemination of facts about the Kashipur issue, will soon succeed in forcing Alcan to fully divest from UAIL.

For more information, visit www.saanet.org/alcant


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