Andhra Pradesh

Andhra Pradesh: HRF seeks cancellation of public hearing on two proposals to mine quartzite

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) demanded that the environmental public hearing for two proposals to mine quartzite, scheduled to be held on August 18 at Dalivalasa and Gavarapalem villages in K Kotapadu mandal of Anakapalli district, be cancelled forthwith. All permissions accorded for mining quartzite to the two project proponents must be revoked.

A two-member HRF team visited the area on August 13 and spoke with local residents, most of them farmers and sheep-rearers, and looked at the effects of quartzite mining there for many years. For about 18 years, the hills abutting the villages of Dalivalasa, Marrivalasa, Pindrangi and Gavarapalem were ravaged because of mining for quartzite by the same project proponents who now want to mine for another 20 years, said V.S. Krishna of the HRF.

He alleged that the mining was done without the mandatory environmental clearance. This was in plain violation of the Environment (Protection) Act. The matter went to court which penalised them with a sum of ₹10,000 each for this illegality, he added.

According to Mr. Krishna, the effects of mining have devastated the environment and affected the livelihood and health of local residents.

Several streams originating and flowing by the mine site were damaged because of the hills being destroyed. These streams flow down and feed numerous tanks that sustain agriculture in the area.

The region is home to a vibrant farming and dairy community. Abutting the mine area is over 60 acres of land assigned decades ago to Dalits and other marginalised communities who raise cashew and mango. Because of the nature of quartzite mining, their agricultural fields have suffered over the years due to water flows being undermined, immense dust dispersing over a wide area and indiscriminate dumping of huge amounts of waste material, said Mr. Krishna.

The hills where mining was done are also the lifeline for a large number of cattle and this has already been negatively impacted. According to local residents, there was also a decline in milk yield and dairy has been hit because of pollution from mining and land degradation, he said.

“In fact, the mining is in plain violation of the Supreme Court order of December 12, 2003 in Civil Appeals No. 1907-1914 of 2000, which states that mining cannot be permitted within 2 km from any habitation. The AP Pollution Control Board (APPCB) guidelines state that the distance between the boundary of a mining site and human habitation, educational institutions and religious places should not be less than 500 metres. The distance between the quartzite mine and Gollapeta, a hamlet of Gavarapalem with over 40 households, is a mere 260 metres,” said K. Sudha of HRF.

The present proposals for two mining leases involve a combined production capacity of a staggering 3,82,500 metric tonnes per annum (MPTA) spread across an area of 71 acres.

As per Mr. Krishna, the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) reports are in English running into over 374 pages each while the Telugu executive summary is truncated to a mere 12 pages each. And even these have not been made accessible to the local people, he alleged.

How can such a process be the basis for an informed participation in a public hearing?, questioned Ms. Sudha.

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Printable version | Sep 13, 2022 3:47:03 pm |