Centre’s directive on leases granted to the APMDC the irritant

The State government has found itself on a sticky wicket over the bauxite mining issue after the Centre directed the State government to rescind leases granted to the APMDC in Visakhapatnam.

The Centre’s insistence and the pressure exerted by Union Ministers V. Kishore Chandra Deo and Jairam Ramesh have put a big question mark over the future of investments worth Rs.25,000 crore for alumina refineries and smelter complexes by Anrak Aluminium Ltd, JSW Aluminium Ltd, and the public sector NALCO.

Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy during his recent visit to GK Veedhi evaded a direct answer on the controversial issue saying he would not take a decision that violates the law.

“Instead of ignoring the Centre’s directive, Mr. Reddy is trying to buy time and misinterpret various laws to go ahead with mining leases -- which will lead to ‘benami’ mining by the project proponents,” Samata executive director Rebbapragda Ravi told The Hindu on Thursday.

In a letter dated 07.02.2013 (No. 6582/M.III(2)/2012, written by the Principal Secretary to the Industries and Commerce Department, Andhra Pradesh, to the Secretary, Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs, the State refuted the grounds on which the Centre sought cancellation of leases. The State requested the Ministry of Tribal Affairs to reconsider the directive pending consultation with the Ministry of Environment & Forest and Ministry of Home Affairs.

In the letter, the State contended that the APMDC was an instrument of the government and hence, lease to APMDC was not in violation of Land Transfer Regulation Act. It said gram sabha approval under PESA Act was not required as bauxite was not a minor mineral.