The stunning disclosure on undervaluation of bauxite deposits in Visakhapatnam by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India in its latest report is bound to cast its shadow on the State government’s decision to undertake bauxite mining.
Though Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu had expressed his resolve last month to go for bauxite mining by involving tribal people in the face of stiff opposition by various groups, the indictment by CAG appeared to have led to airing of different opinions on the sensitive issue.
The CAG report said that the value of the deposits was put at Rs.258 crore as against the official estimate of Rs.11,400 crore at the time of signing MoU by the A. P. Mineral Development Corporation with Jindal South West Holding Limited and Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority during 2005-07. The MoU promised supply of 240 million tonne to Jindal and 220 million tonne to RAK. The latter formed a special purpose vehicle — Anrak Aluminium Limited.
CPI (M) State Secretariat member Ch. Narsinga Rao demanded that the MoU be cancelled, saying the actual value of the bauxite reserves would be more than Rs.1 lakh crore as per an estimate made by Andhra University experts.
Both projects envisaged an investment of around Rs.20,000 crore in aluminium complexes in Visakhapatnam and Vizianagaram districts.
State Ministers — Ganta Srinivasa Rao and Ch. Ayyanna Patrudu — recently made it clear that the government would not take any decision bulldozing the opinion of the stakeholders. The Ministers, who took an active role when in the Opposition against bauxite mining, said they would also look into the concerns expressed by many over its impact on the fragile ecosystem of the Eastern Ghats.
Congress leader V. Kishore Chandra Deo, during a chat with The Hindu , strongly opposed mining and said that when he was Tribal Welfare Minister in the UPA Government, the State was asked to scrap the MoUs.