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Probe launched into Michelin Indian factory

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14:42 CEST+02:00
A French panel which monitors application of OECD principles will hear a complaint alleging that tyre company Michelin breached locals' rights when it built a factory in southeast India, a statement issued by the groups said.

A complaint is to be considered by the National Contact Point (NCP), a panel under the aegis of the French Treasury and which oversees implementation of guiding principles laid down by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the statement added.

According to Bernard Pinaud, head of French non-governmental group CCFD-Terre Solidaire, the plant has contributed to the destruction of 450 hectares (1,100 acres) of forest and is guzzling more than its fair share of local water, depriving residents of their main means of subsistence.

The communities concerned include some of India's poorest citizens, formerly known as "untouchables".

Five groups, including two Indian organisations, filed the complaint against Michelin in July after it built the factory near the village of Thervoy in Tamil Nadu state.

The facility, Michelin's biggest in India, is set to start making tyres in coming weeks, according to the French trade union CGT, which is one of the plaintiffs.

An NCP official declined to comment on the panel's action, describing it as "confidential."

The French daily Le Monde, which said the hearing date was November 22, quoted Michelin as saying: "We refute the accusation contained in this complaint, and Michelin will justify its actions before the NCP."

Michelin has spent 600 million euros ($780 million) on the project.

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The NCP is a panel that includes representatives from trade unions, companies, and the French administration.

William Bourdon, head of the French non-governmental group Sherpa, was quoted by the statement as saying: "We expect the NCP ... to recommend that an environmental impact study be carried out, and thus ensure that work is suspended until local judicial procedures are taken to term."

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