Using his Constitutional powers, tribal affairs minister Kishore Chandra Deo has directed the Andhra Pradesh government to cancel bauxite mining leases to Andhra Pradesh Mining Development Corporation (APMDC) in the state's Aaraku valley to prevent reemergence of naxalism.
The corporation has signed Memorandum of Understanding with several private companies to mine bauxite, which, according to Deo, is violation of Alienation of Land Transfer Regulation Act.
The law prohibits a non-tribal either from purchasing any land or even from getting a lease in the scheduled tribe areas.
"Between 2005 and 2010 the government of Andhra Pradesh has signed MoUs with several companies which are neither owned nor controlled by people belonging to the Scheduled Tribes," Deo said, in his letter to Andhra Pradesh governor ESL Narasimhan, a few months ago.
With the governor not acting on the minister's request to intervene, his ministry has issued the direction to the state government to cancel all mining leases.
"The mining activities in these areas would adversely affect the tribals of these scheduled areas by way of land alienation and dislocation and harassment arising out of loss of habitat and livelihood," said an order issued by AK Dubey, joint secretary in the ministry.
In a separate letter, the minister told Andhra Pradesh chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy that bauxite mining in Visakhapatnam will destroy the sources of three main rivers -- Gosthani, Champavati and Sarada, which are also main source of irrigation in the region.
He also said that the agreements signed with the private companies for bauxite mining was in total violation of the fifth schedule of the Constitution, which safeguards interests of tribal communities.
"Under these circumstances, I hereby direct the state government of Andhra Pradesh under the clause 3 of the V Schedule of Constitution to cancel the mining leases to APMDC and report compliance," Deo said.
He has the support of rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, who has also opposed bauxite mining in the tribal areas of Visakhapatnam, which shares the border with naxal-affected Odisha.
"I with the Union tribal affairs minister, Mr V Kishore Chandra Deo, would not allow the activity at any cost," he said recently.
Visakhapatnam is also Deo's parliamentary constituency.