Tribal people living in Visakhapatnam and East Godavari districts, and neighbouring Odisha oppose it
Bauxite mining in the Scheduled Areas, a contentious issue which has been agitating the tribal people living Visakhapatnam and East Godavari districts, and neighbouring Odisha, for nearly a decade, is generating heat with general elections less than a month away.
People in the affected areas of Araku, Chintapalle, GK Veedhi, Sapparla, and Rampachodavaram are insisting on a firm assurance from the political parties on their stand on bauxite mining proposed by the AP Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC) to supply the mineral to Anrak Aluminium Ltd and Jindal South West Aluminium Ltd.
“The people in the Agency areas, whose livelihood is under threat, want a categorical assurance from contesting candidates that they will not support under any circumstances any move to allow mining,” said AP Girijan Sangham leader Killo Surendra.
While Anrak has already set up an alumina refinery near Makavarapalem, about 90 km from here without environmental clearance for exploring bauxite through APMDC from GK Veedhi and Sapparla area, JSW has signed MoU with the State Government to establish refinery near S. Kota in Vizianagaram district. State-owned National Aluminium Company has also made a proposal to invest Rs.5,000 crore in an aluminium complex and mining in Visakhapatnam and East Godavari.
All the projects put together with an estimated investment of Rs.25,000 crore have been facing rough weather due to strong objections by Union Minister for Tribal Affairs and Panchayati Raj V. Kishore Chandra Deo and Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh.
“Though the Ministry of Tribal Affairs directed the State Government to scrap the mining leases, then Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy did not show interest to cancel the agreements. We insist that the leases should be cancelled once the new government is in place,” Samata executive director Rebbapragda Ravi said.
As the entities like APMDC and Orissa Minerals Development Co. Ltd are registered under the Companies Act, leases signed by them are ultra vires the Constitution and judgement given by the Supreme Court. “At a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, I made a strong presentation for 45 minutes last year after which the Cabinet agreed that going ahead with the leases are against the provisions of the Constitution,” Mr. Deo told The Hindu.