Andhra Pradesh

Laterite mining going on unchecked in Agency

Green concerns:  A road leading to the site of the laterite mining going on atop the hill near Chintapalli in the Agency area of Visakhapatnam district

Green concerns: A road leading to the site of the laterite mining going on atop the hill near Chintapalli in the Agency area of Visakhapatnam district

The livelihood of the tribal people of Siripuram, Rajupakalu, Terapalli, Labbangi, Madigunta and Rajubanda villages in Chintapalli mandal is under threat due to the extensive mining for laterite atop a hill in the Agency areas of the district.

The tipper trucks, kicking up a lot of dust, as they moved up and down the kutcha road, formed to facilitate the transport of laterite. An excavator was seen continuously working digging up the red mud on the hilltop and loading it on to the trucks.

“Quarrying for laterite was done at the foothill about a couple of years ago and was abandoned. A kutcha road was laid to the hill top some months ago and mining was being done, without the consent of the local people. The State government has not responded to our plea for stopping the mining,” said Ulli Lakshmaiah, a former MPP of Peda Barada.

“The mining for laterite will not only result in contamination of groundwater but also destroyed coffee and mango crop in addition to make a dent in the revenue from tourism,” he said.

“There is a perennial natural spring atop the hill. The water in the spring is believed to be contaminated and we are told that it can also cause groundwater pollution in the surrounding villages,” says Jagannadham of Labbangi village.

“The mandatory approval of the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Committee and the Gram Sabha was not taken by the mining company,” alleges Tata Rao, another villager.

Court order violated?

“There are coffee plantations in 80 acres in Madigunta, Rabbarugondi, Terapalli, Siripuram and Rajunbanda and the contaminated water flowing down the hill slope could destroy the plantations,” say P. Venkateswarlu and Ramana of Peddabarada village.

Former Minister for Tribal Welfare P. Balaraju demanded an immediate halting to laterite mining in the Agency areas.

Alleging that mining was being done by big businessmen on ‘benami’ (in the names of tribal people), he wondered: how can the poor tribal people invest lakhs of rupees?

Meanwhile, the former Energy Secretary and social activist E.A.S. Sarma wrote to Chief Secretary Dinesh Kumar, saying that ignoring the interim order issued by the High Court , prohibiting laterite mining, subject to certain conditions, on March 27, this year, in Nathavaram mandal in the district, it was resumed by miners, without fulfilling the conditions.

He suspected the connivance of local Revenue, Forest, Mining and Police Officers, apparently under pressure from senior political leaders. He sought intervention of the Chief Secretary to ensure compliance of the court order.

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Printable version | Aug 14, 2022 7:07:43 am |