‘Once forest clearance is given, it will pave the way for giving all sanctions'

The all-powerful mining lobby is upping the ante to lift the moratorium on allowing AP Mineral Development Corporation to dig bauxite ore and supply it to Jindal South West Aluminium Ltd and Anrak Aluminium Ltd.

Sources told The Hindu that the mining lobby intensified efforts to revoke the suspension after the then Union Mines Minister B.K. Handique declared that all clearances given for bauxite mining in the scheduled areas of Visakhapatnam would be kept in abeyance pending detailed evaluation by experts on the impact of mining on flora and fauna of Eastern Ghats and livelihood of the tribals.

The Kala Committee was deputed to Vizag as part of fact-finding mission to find out whether forest clearance could be accorded.

The overwhelming opposition to the committee's visit clearly typified the mood in various sections against attempts to open floodgates to mining.

Samata executive director Rebbapragda Ravi says once forest clearance was given, it would ultimately pave the way for giving all sanctions so as to open the doors to mining companies to ‘loot' bauxite ore' in the scheduled areas in contravention of Supreme Court directive in the famous Samata judgment.

High-power committee

The six-member high-power committee constituted by the AP Government in 2008 as per GO Ms. No. 222 had advised the following of Odisha model in pricing the bauxite ore. Orissa Mining Corporation's pricing formula followed in the Vedanta case came up for severe criticism by the Comptroller and Auditor-General.

It is not yet clear whether the government now is firm on sticking to its decision in 2008 or accept the demand from former Union Power Secretary E.A.S. Sarma and others to fix the price based on London Metal Exchange if the moratorium is lifted.

Whatever be the yardstick for pricing, Anrak Aluminium Ltd is going ahead with the construction of its alumina refinery in Makavarapalem mandal in the district. It is speculated that the company – in which Ras al-Khaimah and Penna Cements have stake – will export bauxite ore from other States till APMDC overcomes obstacles in supplying the raw material.

The APMDC has also committed itself to supplying bauxite ore to JSW Aluminium Ltd, which was allotted land near S.Kota in Vizianagaram district for setting up an alumina refinery.