HRF seeks action on illegal mining
DECCAN CHRONICLE | N Sharath Chowdary
Visakhapatnam: Spearheading the next revolution, city-based social activists and critics have raised their voices on several environmental issues to alert the government authorities and correct the procedural lapses. They demanded strict action against the individuals or organisations violating the environment laws and regulations.
Human Rights Forum (HRF) activists have pointed out unauthorised mining in the state without prior permissions from the mining department. Illegal mining and quarrying activity is going on at Sudi Konda hills in Kanchili and Sompeta mandals of Srikakulam district for granite, gravel and black and red stone.
The mining operations have been taking place in several villages including Banjirunarayanapuram, Oriyanarayanapuram, Mandapalli, Mogilikothuru, Baliyaputtuga, Patrapada, Padmalath, Kattivaram, Konali, Landaputtuga, Talatampara, Ammavari-puuttuga and Sriram-puram, located near the hills.
Over 10,000 tribals live in these villages. They are dependent on water flowing down these hills for drinking and irrigation needs.
As a result of the mining activity, the water that is supplied under NTR Sujala Water Scheme is also gets polluted and causing harm to their health. The revenue authorities should reject issuing No Objection Certificate (NOC) for the mining.
Claiming collusion among the revenue and mining officers with the private miners, the social activists said that mining operations were started without formal permissions.
According to a judgement by the Supreme Court, no mining activity should be permitted within 2-km radius from any habitation.
The villagers also feel that denudation of vegetation over the hills through mining activity would expose the region to cyclone damages. Former energy secretary and convener of the Forum for Better Visakha E.A.S. Sarma has urged the Union mines secretary to suspend all mining activity on Sudi Konda hills and revoke permissions.
He also pointed out that several states, including Andhra Pradesh, had failed to implement compensatory afforestation for the earlier infrastructure projects involving diversion of forest lands.
He asked the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MEFCC) to defer all proposals from the state for clearance for forest land diversion.
"The AP government has been misleading the MEFCC in compensatory afforestation in diversion of Avanam reserve forest lands in Bheemili and Yendada for Divi’s Labs and Karthikavanam eco-tourism project respectively," Mr Sarma said, adding that such misleading proposals are happening in three more cases.
Compensatory afforestation has been proposed in Srisailam Swarnamukhi Link Canal Project at Kaigal village in Kadapa district. The land offered is "grazing land" for the local livestock, which does not fulfil the intention underlying the apex court judgement. "It is incorrect to divert such grazing land for afforestation," he informed.