Visakhapatnam: The Human Rights Forum (HRF) called upon the government to take appropriate measures immediately to protect the catchment area of the Kalyanalova reservoir in Cheemalapadu panchayat of Ravikamatham mandal in the district.
The reservoir and its environs, which are a livelihood source for farmers and Adivasis in the area, are in a danger due to granite mining in its catchment area. The government had decided to stop all mining in the area and ensure that the catchment and the local ecosystem are not damaged further, the HRF reminded and also demanded a comprehensive investigation to identify and prosecute all officials who facilitated granite mining in the area.
V.S. Krishna, member, HRF-AP and TS Coordination Committee, K. Sudha, HRF state general secretary, AP, and other members visited the catchment area and observed the damage being caused due to granite mining.
“It is evident that granite mining was permitted several years ago in the catchment area of Varaha river that feeds Kalyanalova reservoir. The corrupt officials of the revenue, forest and mining departments suppressed the fact that various quarries were located right in the catchment area of the reservoir. Mining licences were issued on land located in the scheduled area and in violation of statutes including the Forest Rights Act (FRA) and the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas Act (PESA). With mining being allowed, the inflows into the reservoir reduced and the area which is rich in forest resources was contaminated,” Mr Krishna said.
The farmers in the command area of the dam, as well as Adivasis living close to the quarries had taken the irregularities and the resulting devastation to the notice of authorities. They called for the mines to be shut down and for the area to be declared as a no-mining zone but the government remained non-chalant, he lamented.
The irrigation department which is the legal custodian of the dam stated unambiguously on June 26, 2019, that it was neither consulted nor the requisite no objection certificate obtained from it before mining began.
The department stated that the reason it had not accorded permission for granite mining was that the areas of the mines are located in the catchment of the reservoir.
The department said that the mining would obstruct water flow into the reservoir due to which farmers would be affected. It also said that the embankment of the reservoir was being damaged due to the mining and transport operations.
Submitting its report to the district collector, the department sought cancellation of all quarry licences in the catchment area of the reservoir.