Using his Constitutional powers, Union 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. The step has been taken to prevent reemergence of Naxalism in the valley.
The corporation has signed Memorandum of Understanding with several private companies to mine bauxite, which, according to Deo, is violation of the 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 Deo’s request, 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 joint secretary in the ministry AK Dubey.
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 has support of rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, who has also opposed mining in the tribal areas of Visakhapatnam, which is on the border of naxal affected Orissa.
“I with Deo, would not allow the activity at any cost,” Ramesh had said recently.
Visakhapatnam is also Deo’s parliamentary constituency.