Girijans and NGO worried that the panel report may favour bauxite mining

The expert committee formed by the Union Ministry of Forests and Environment is making its second visit to the two areas in Visakha Agency that have been identified for bauxite mining, from December 20 to 22.

The committee is headed by former Director General of Forests J.C. Kala, who was former one-man member of the National Environment Appellate Authority, which became defunct after the National Green Act came into force; and has former Director of Tribal Cultural Research and Training Institute V.N.V.K. Sastry; former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests M. Kamal Naidu and Director-General of Administrative Staff College of India (Hyderabad) S.K. Rao as its Members.

Preliminary visit

Dr. Kala and Mr. Kamal Naidu made a preliminary visit to Anantagiri and Araku mandals during October but the present visit is causing much concern to the Girijans and those worried over damage to the environment, the forests and hills of Visakha Agency endowed with rare species of flora and fauna and several streams that end up in rivers supplying water to the plain areas, even after Union Minster for Tribal Welfare V. Kishore Chandra Deo has very recently asserted here that he would go to the extent of asking the Governor to invoke his special powers to stop bauxite mining to protect the interests of Girijans.

Since a non-tribal cannot take up mining activity in the Scheduled area the task was given to AP Mineral Development Corporation which proposed to mine bauxite in 1,212 hectares for supplying the ore to Anrak Alumina for its plant being set up in Makavarapalem mandal in Visakhapatnam district and 304 hectares in Anantagiri and Araku mandals for the Jindal South West Holding Limited for its plant to be set up in Boddavara in Vizianagaram district.

Clearance

The APMDC entered into MoU with the two companies and received in principle the Stage I clearance for mining in the area meant for supply to the Anrak plant.

According to sources, the expert committee would look into the aspects like the impact of mining on the local Girijan population; what conditions were laid down while granting the Stage I clearance and if they are adequate to safeguard the environment and people; availability and requirement of the bauxite ore for the two plants; and the provisions in the MoU the APMDC has signed with the two companies.

With Dr. Kala heading the committee a local NGO Samata is doubtful if justice will be done.

Dr. Kala was the lone Member of the NEAA before which Samata had filed a case saying that APMDC should not be given permission since the public hearing conducted on bauxite mining in Jerrela block at Chintapalli on October 3, 2008, was totally boycotted by the local Girijans who opposed mining and that the process was illegal. But Dr. Kala gave order in favour of APMDC and his committee would likely to give its report in favour of mining, Samata doubts.

The expert committee is scheduled to visit the proposed mining areas in Chintapalli mandal on the first day, areas in Anantagiri mandal on the second day and hold consultations with the district officials, representatives of political parties and NGOs on the third day.

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