Visakhapatnam: The peaceful forest area in Visakahapatnam district is all set to witness hectic activity in the days to come. The main opposition YSRCP, Congress, Left Parties are preparing to pull up the socks to take on the State government, protesting against giving approval to bauxite mining to an extent of 1,212 hectors betweenChintapalli and Jerrila under Narsipatnam Reserve Forest Range.
Turning the tables from its earlier stand, the ruling TDP government on Thursday has given its nod to Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation Limited (APMDCL), to mine the Bauxite mineral. It has also given green signal to lay several roads leading to bauxite rich areas of Galikonda, Araku, Chintapalli, Sapparla and Koyyuru in the forest belt to transport the mined mineral.
Mining of Bauxite ore has remained a contentious issue for over a decade with several twists and turns in an opportunistic political saga.
Presence of mineral wealth was first identified during British Raj. But, owing to various factors, mining of bauxite was not undertaken in the area. However, for the first time after independence the then ruling TDP government in 2000 had proposed to take up the mining activity. Following wide-spread protests and stiff resistance in tribal areas the proposal had gone into cold storage.
Again, it was the Congress government headed by the then Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy which gave approval to mine the mineral in 18,485 hectors of lands in Rakta Konda and Jerrila blocks to a private company. But, a Supreme Court Judgment of 1997 in Samatha Case had prohibited any private company from owning or leasing land for mines or industry in the Fifth Schedule Areas of any state.
To avoid this prohibition, the government had decided that the APMDCL, being a public entity would undertake mining and supply bauxite to the industries located outside the agency areas. Consequent to this, a first MoU has been signed with Jindal South West Holdings Limited (2005), ANRAK, a joint venture company promoted by Hyderabad-based Penna Cement Industries, and the government of Ras Al Khaimah from the United Aram Emirates. It was in 2008 that the ANRAK had got in principal agreement for the first stage of approvals. However, the project had got some forward movement during the tenure of the then Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy. But, the same was however resisted by political parties, tribal groups, environmentalists, and civil society organizations. None other than the then Union Tribal Welfare Minister Kishore Chandra Dev had written an open letter to his government opposing against approval to mine bauxite ore . Joining him, the main opposition party leader N Chandrababu Naidu too had shot of a letter to the State Governor E S L Narasimhan on April 27, 2012 terming permission to mining of bauxite in the schedule area is unconstitutional and demanded immediate withdrawal of approval given by the Congress government.
But, now, basing on the same approval of 2008, the TDP ruled state government had given its approval to mine the bauxite ore claiming that it would help development of tribal’s in the agency areas. Nearly, 250 villages located between Araku and Jerrila are likely to get affected, besides, people in 73 villages located around the mining areas could face health problems. And, the mining activity also will have an impact on the Sarada, Sabari, Gostani and Champavathi rivers in the areas.