Controversy over bauxite mining continues

‘Chief Minister is yet to make specific announcement in this regard’

Updated - August 13, 2018 02:06 pm IST

Published - August 13, 2018 12:57 am IST

Even after the repeated assurances by Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu that he would not allow bauxite mining against the wishes of tribal people in the scheduled areas of Visakhapatnam and East Godavari districts, the controversy continues to hog the limelight for over a decade.

Mr. Naidu, during his recent visit to Paderu, stated that he would not take any decision against the wishes of tribal people. However, environmental activists claimed that he had failed to make a specific announcement ruling out the proposed bauxite mining.

After Union Minister of State for Mines Haribhai Prathibhai Chaudhary informed the Rajya Sabha, in response to a question posed by YSRCP leader V. Vijayasai Reddy recently, that the proposals made by National Aluminium Company (NALCO) were still on, the Opposition parties including the Left-affiliated ones had sought the withdrawal of the GO 97 that authorises the AP Mining Development Corporation (APMDC) to undertake the mining activities.

Investment plan

NALCO, which has an alumina refinery at Damonjodi in Koraput district and smelter at Angul in Odisha with bauxite blocks on Andhra-Odisha border, submitted applications for the lease in Gudem bauxite block in Visakhapatnam and Kataraju Konda in East Godavari district in November, 2007. The Centre, on the recommendation of undivided Andhra Pradesh, accorded the approval in September, 2009.

NALCO has plans to set up an alumina refinery with a capacity of 1.4 million tonne or two million tonne and other associated facilities with an investment of ₹7,000 crore to ₹12,000 crore in Visakhapatnam district.

Tribal activists say that mining bauxite in the Scheduled Areas would violate the Samata judgement pronounced by the Supreme Court which rules that either the State, its instrumentalities or tribal themselves forming into a cooperative are empowered to undertake the mining activities.

The NALCO authorities contend that they, being a PSU with a proven track-record, would not come in the way of the Samata judgement even if they undertake the mining.

Pact and SPV

While an MoU signed with Jindal South West Aluminium Ltd for setting up an alumina refinery and smelter in S. Kota area in the district is deemed to have been shelved, Anrak Aluminium Ltd, a special purpose vehicle floated by Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA) and Penna Group, is keen on going ahead with its investment plans in Visakhapatnam. It has already invested in a refinery at Makavaralem, about 90 km from here.

The State government had scrapped the GO 222, cancelling its commitment to supply 224 million tonne of bauxite ore through the APMDC to Anrak.

In protest against this, the RAKIA had submitted an arbitration petition under the India-UAE Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPA) on December 8, 2016, seeking compensation on investment of US$44.71 million made by them on their aluminium complex project in Andhra Pradesh.

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