Asserting that “I have no fear and don’t do anything wrong,” Chairman of the controversy-ridden Vedanta Group, Anil Agarwal, has warned that a country like India cannot afford any stoppage in manufacturing activity.
In an interaction with select presspersons here on Friday, he said it was important for a country like India to create jobs. And, only manufacturing could do it in a large way. “Manufacturing cannot be halted,” he argued, pointing to the not too many new industrial projects.
Fielding a range of questions, Mr. Agarwal did not agree with the suggestion that he and his group were at the receiving end of the stick of late. “We are a democratic country. We are governance-oriented, and will do world-class projects,” he said. Claiming that he “is not sad” at the negative spotlight on the group, he said these were part of the process in a democratic set-up.
Queried especially on the Supreme Court verdict in the case related to Vedanta group’s $1.7-billion bauxite mining project in Odisha’s Niyamgiri Hills, he merely said the natural resources must be used for human development. “India is a democratic country, and establishing an industrial unit is a process. We balance ourselves……the huge investments we have made is definitely hurting us,” he said, and added that “We believe people are intelligent enough to understand the advantages.”
To a question, he said Japan, Australia and the U.S. were very large producers of copper. “However, we are the only plant in the world with zero discharge,” he claimed. Tamil Nadu, he said, required core industries such as steel and copper.
Mr. Agarwal pointed out that courts were also favourable in some cases. “They (courts) have now permitted re-opening of mines in Karnataka…..and also in Goa.’’
“As I always said, we are going to die last,” he said when quizzed on the softening commodity prices globally and its impact on the group. “Our approach to producing metals has always been to keep the costs low, and operations simple. We want to remain as the lowest cost producer of metals. We have been focusing on this.” World over, prices of base metals across the board have hit low levels due to poor demand from China. Nevertheless, he felt the base metal prices had bottomed out. “Global markets are not bullish, but, I think, we are at the lowest level, which is hurting the industry,” Mr. Agarwal said. “Prices rode high on the strength of Chinese buying. Now, I think, India and Central American markets will witness increased consumption,” he added.
Asked about the recently set up Cabinet Committee on Investments, he said, “the government’s intentions are very good…..Our hard earned money cannot go for imports…..we cannot be an import-dependent country…In the case of copper, if we do not start operations, the country will start importing from tomorrow,” he said.