Visakhapatnam: Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu said the government has not taken a firm decision on the controversial bauxite mining in the wake of Maoists kidnapping TD leaders belonging to the Vizag Agency. However, the state-run mining agency, APMDC, had actively pursued the issue with the MoEF, for the final clearances to take up mining after Mr Naidu came to power in June, 2014.
Within 14 months of Mr Naidu taking reins of the State, the APMDC had at least written four times to the MoEF on various issues regarding the final approvals. It clearly indicates that while bauxite mining has been put on the back burner by the Congress government in the State and the UPA at the Centre till 2014, both the NDA at Centre and TD government in the State are actively pursuing clearances.
The APMDC on Oct. 8, 2007, for the first time approached the MoEF seeking prior approval under Section 2 of Forest Conservation Act, of 1980, to divert 1,212 hectares of reserve forest land in Chintapalli and Jerella, to take up mining.
On Aug. 12, 2008, the MoEF issued ‘in principle’ approval. On Jan. 25, 2011, the state government submitted a compliance report to the MoEF and sought final approval.
From 2011 till 2015, there was no communication from the state government to the MoEF on the final approval, which is said to be due to various factors like stiff opposition from the tribals. Later, the MoEF also appointed a high-level committee headed by Mr J.C. Kala to study the issue before granting final approval.
But, after the TD government came to power in June, 2014, the state wrote to the MoEF on the final approvals four times, on Feb. 10, Feb. 23, July 21, and Aug. 6, this year. On Aug. 17, the MoEF gave final approval to divert the forest land.
Interestingly, the JC Kala committee, after studying various aspects of proposed bauxite mining in Vizag Agency in December 2011, recommended that before proceeding with the mining, the mining agency should obtain a nod from a gram sabha or the panchayat at appropriate level located within 10 km radius of the mining area, as per the PESA Act and also approval should be taken from the AP Tribes Advisory Council.
Parties try to cash in on bauxite mining
Political parties are devising strategies to cash in on the controversial bauxite mining issue and impress the tribals in the 11 Agency mandals with their argument. On Monday, the national-level leaders of the Congress have toured Vizag Agency. Meanwhile, YSRC chief Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy and CPM politburo member and national leader Brinda Karat are also getting ready to visit the place.
Now, AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi is likely to visit Vizag Agency. Mr Rahul also visited Niyamgiri area in Odisha where tribals had taken up anti-bauxite mining campaign, a few years ago.
MS Brinda Karat is expected to take part in a public meeting and interact with the tribals belonging to those villages that will be affected by the bauxite mining during her two-day visit, on Nov. 29 and 30. Mr Jagan would be touring tribal areas and holding a public meeting at Chintapalle on Dec. 2.
“Congress will step up agitation in support of tribals against the proposed bauxite mining in Vizag Agency. We will see to that Mr Rahul Gandhi also visits Vizag Agency tracts and interacts with the tribals to gain their trust,” former AP Assembly Speaker Nadendla Manohar told reporters here on Tuesday. The CPI also is planning a series of agitations.
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