The controversy arising out of Obulapuram Mining Company has brought to focus the bauxite mining issue in Visakhapatnam and Vizianagaram districts.

Social activists are now insisting on review of agreements signed with Jindal South West Aluminium Limited and Anrak Aluminium Limited though there is no opposition to allotment of mining leases to National Aluminium Company (NALCO) in areas bordering Visakhapatnam-East Godavari as it is a wholly-owned public sector.

While NALCO is in the process of getting leases to mine on its own, AP Mineral Development Corporation will supply the ore for Jindal’s 1.4 million tonne refinery proposed at Boddavara in Vizianagaram and Anrak’s one million tonne refinery near Makavarapalem in Visakhapatnam district.

There is `winter of discontent’ even in political circles paving the way for the mining issue to snowball into a raging controversy. The Opposition parties are now planning to revive anti-bauxite mining stir after maintaining lull for sometime.

Inquiry

Union Mining Minister B.K. Handique’s statement that the States are responsible for the repercussions of their decisions on mining leases has been welcomed by many. “In view of his assertion and the Obulapuram row, the State Government should review its agreements, invite fresh bids through open bidding and grant leases to tribal cooperatives in deference to Supreme Court’s landmark judgment in the Samata versus Birla Periclase case,” Samata executive director Rebbapragda Ravi told THE HINDU.

The Orissa Government has already ordered enquiry into mining controversies. There is widespread opposition to mining by Vedanta, Birla, Utkal Alumina and Posco in Orissa.

“The mining mafia wants to plunder away our resources as there is no justification to supply bauxite ore in excess than their requirement to Jindal and Anrak.

The decision to supply bauxite at Rs.86 per tonne on the advice of Price Water vide GO Ms. No. 222 raises many an eyebrow,” pointed out social activist E.A.S. Sarma, a former IAS officer.

A study conducted by a British scholar revealed that the government’s annual income from royalty on bauxite will be Rs.64.5 crores from Jindal and Anrak.

As per the guidelines issued by the Apex Court, 20 per cent of it amounting to Rs.13 crores will go to local tribals.

Mr. Sarma alleged that the annual profit of Jindal and Anrak on the basis of prices prevailing in London Metal Exchange would be respectively around Rs.1,260 crores and Rs.2,350 crores.

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