The decision to reserve 56,650 acres of land in Bayyaram in Khammam district for exploration by the A.P. Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC), which stirred a political controversy, has been kept in abeyance by the Centre. It was acting on a request by the State government to reconsider the approval.

A political storm broke out earlier this month after the APMDC entered into a joint venture with Rakshana Steels Limited for conducting survey and exploration for mineral bearing areas in Bayyaram, Garla and Nelakondapalli mandals in Khammam and Warangal districts in February 2009.

Opposition parties alleged during the monsoon session of the Assembly that the firm enjoyed the patronage of Bro. Anil Kumar, son-in-law of Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, a charge that Rakshana Steels vehemently denied.

In a message communicated on Friday, the Centre asked the State government to conduct a resurvey of the entire area for ascertaining the exact extent of land required for taking up exploration. A senior official said this followed a request from the State government to allow it to gracefully exit from the controversy.

During the Assembly session, TDP leaders demanded cancellation of the joint venture and described the approval as a “scandal of much higher magnitude than the Obulapuram mines”. Chief Minister K. Rosaiah is understood to have favoured action when the issue came up at the last Cabinet meeting on July 16, but was reportedly counselled against it by some Ministers.

Centre's approval

Officials are baffled over the hurried manner in which the YSR government sought the Centre's approval for exploration on land that covers entire geographical area of the three mandals.

More than 30 per cent of the allotted land consists of habitations including small towns, roads and other public infrastructure. “Substantial portion of the land earmarked for exploration comprises residential areas,” an official of the Chief Minister's Office said.