Communist Party of India (Marxist) polit bureau member Brinda Karat on Saturday said Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan must act on the plea made by the Tribal Affairs Ministry to cancel bauxite mining leases granted in Visakhapatnam.
Addressing a press conference here, she said instead of acting as a ‘postman,’ he should invoke special powers vested with him under the Fifth Schedule to scrap the leases.
Union Tribal Affairs Minister V. Kishore Chandra Deo, in a letter dated March 14 and earlier letters written by him, had urged the Governor to cancel leases as per the powers vested with him under Article 224 saying the delay in cancelling leases was giving scope to increase in Left-wing extremism in Visakhapatnam and areas bordering Odisha.
Ms. Karat said during her visit to Araku and other affected areas in the past, the tribal people had represented to her that they were totally opposed to mining in their area as it would hit their livelihood as well as the fragile ecosystem and flora and fauna of the Eastern Ghats.
She hailed the recent Supreme Court order in Posco bauxite mining case in Odisha in which the apex court ruled that the consent of gram sabhas was a must to go ahead with mining in tribal areas. She said allowing FDI in mining would also trample on the rights of tribal people.
Describing as ‘utter hypocrisy’ the series of letters written by Mr. Deo, public utterances by Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and the contradictory statement by AP Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy that they would not violate law in allowing mining, she said all the clearances for bauxite mining were accorded by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
“Either the Governor should apply his discretionary powers or the Ministry should step in to withdraw the permissions. I wonder why Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and others are maintaining deafening silence on such an important issue,” she remarked.