Doing the Needful

Essar’s industry of influence

01 August 2015
The Ruia family controls the vast Essar corporation: from left, Anshuman Ruia, Ravi Ruia, Shashi Ruia and Prashant Ruia.
MADHU KAPPARATH AND SANJAY PANDYA / INDIA TODAY IMAGES
The Ruia family controls the vast Essar corporation: from left, Anshuman Ruia, Ravi Ruia, Shashi Ruia and Prashant Ruia.
MADHU KAPPARATH AND SANJAY PANDYA / INDIA TODAY IMAGES

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THE TRACK AT THE MAHALAKSHMI RACE COURSE, in Mumbai, runs around a large field that almost touches the Arabian Sea. As horses gallop to the finish line, they pass the course’s colonial-era grandstand, just behind which stands the high column of Essar House. On the twentieth floor of this building, the billionaire brothers Ess and Ar—Shashi and Ravi Ruia—sit in two corners of a shared office, a room nearly 30 feet long.

The chrome and glass exterior of Essar House usually mirrors the green sward of the race course, but not on the afternoon of 22 January 2014. A little after 1pm on that day, six people dangling off the facade, ostensibly hired to clean it, dropped a large white banner. On the sheet, 72 feet long and 36 feet wide, was a message: “We Kill Forests: Essar.”

Krishn Kaushik  was formerly a staff writer at The Caravan.

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