Written by 15 h 42 min Environment and Climate, Strategic litigation

Michelin in India: the civil society is heard ?

The Facts…

The Michelin enterprise’s work lies across 69 production sites in 18 countries, particularly in India. There, the enterprise is constructing its largest tire factory on land made available by the State of Tamil Nadu, without the inhabitants of the area, mainly from the untouchable caste, having been consulted. The development work for this area invoked the destruction of 450 hectares of collective forest that protected agricultural and pastoral activities, depriving these populations from their main means of subsistence. Furthermore, these lands are located on a catchment basin which is the main water source for agriculture.

The Litigation…

On July 10, 2012, Sherpa, the CGT, the CCFD-Terre Solidaire and two Indian partners–Tamil Nadu Land Rights Federation and the association of villagers Thervoy Sangamentered the OCDE’s (NCP) national contact point in France by a “specific circumstance” (CS: complaint allowing to seize NCP) for violation of the guiding principles for multinationals by the French enterprise Michelin in the context of its implantation in Tamil Nadu, in India.

After the hearing of the parties in November 2012, numerous letters were sent to the NCP by our associations denouncing the irregularities of the procedures. These different letters also asked for additional information in response to the memoranda of the Michelin enterprise.

Michelin en Inde - Chennai ©LesEchos

View of the Michelin factory in construction in Chennai, India | ©LesEchos

Despite the plaintiffs’ acceptance to participate in a mediation focusing on all the points raised in the specific circumstance in April 2013, the Michelin enterprise and NCP seem inclined to only discuss the impact assessment, and therefore refuse general mediation.

The civil society is heard?

Repeated irregularities were found in the procedure and NCP’s final report project not being in accordance with its original mission, the plaintiffs decided to withdraw their claim in order to denounce the flaws in this instance and ask for major reform. On September 27, 2013, despite its entire final communiqué, NCP published, in which it recommended to the Michelin enterprise to be vigilant with regard to certain chapters of the guiding principles. It also recommended it to proceed with improvements in certain domains, particularly relating to the information of the local populations or evaluation of industrial risks, but paradoxically refuses to conclude that the enterprise has violated the guiding principles

It seems that this file had at least helped for the NCP to take into account the claims of the civil society meeting in the citizen Forum for CSR. Indeed, the organizations having worked on the reform of this institution were summoned to a hearing to work on reform allowing the inclusion of a panel by the civil society. The associations should have been integrated in the decision making process, similar to some effective European NCPs like that of the United Kingdom.

Procedures & Milestones…

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