India UpdatePublished by MAC on 2005-12-30
Impacts of proposed bauxite mining in the tribal areas of Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India
mm&P/mines, minerals & PEOPLE, India
30th December 2005
A one-day Workshop was organized at the Andhra University Development Centre, Visakhapatnam, on 30.12.05 by mines, minerals & PEOPLE (mm&P), a national alliance of mining struggle groups and communities in India, to highlight the impacts of the proposed Bauxite Mining in the tribal area of Visakhapatnam district and to provide an opportunity for affected communities, civil society groups, media, political parties and officials to present their perspectives or protests over the project.
The Workshop was attended by about 100 participants representing more than 33 organizations and mass movements, mainly tribal communities and youth from the district, who voiced their strong opposition to the proposed project.
The Workshop was chaired by Dr.EAS Sarma, former Secretary, Government of India. Dr.Sreedhar Ramamoorthy of mines, minerals & PEOPLE who is also an earth scientist with several years of experience working in the oil and mining sector gave a focus to the Workshop in his presentation on the geological significance of the bauxite hills and how the bauxite ores act as protective caps for the rich landmass and springs that occur below the interface of the laterite-bauxite rocks and how blasting these caps will completely deplete the eco-system.
The presentation also gave an overview of the mineral sector scenario in the country demystifying the government’s blatant falsehoods where he showed how employment rates in the mining sector have actually decreased, the economic non-viability of mining bauxite in terms of excessive energy consumption, the heavy dependence on imports of oil and energy, the manner in which legal frameworks are being diluted and policies are openly being promoted for free trade and private market lobbies in mining and the various ministries like the Ministry of Environment and Forests relaxing all regulatory mechanisms against the interests of communities and the environment.
He concluded saying that the limited mineral resources India has, instead of being preserved for our later domestic use, are being depleted in a very short period, especially in this region of A.P-Orissa, thereby exhausting these non-renewables.
Mr. Demudu, MLA of Chintapalli, expressed his strong opposition to the project and spoke of the injustice, the displacement and the impoverishment that such a project will lead to as is clearly visible in earlier projects like Tandava, Nagarjunasagar and others. He spoke how the present government had opposed this project before they came to power but stated that the tribal representatives in the TAC are strongly opposing the project and willing to stand by the people.
Representatives from the affected communities gave a call for a strong people’s movement to oppose the project. The sarpanch of Yeguvalasa spoke of the intimidation tactics by the authorities and the Jindals, to evict them from their lands. Smt.Nukalamma moved the participants with her emotional speech on how they were taken to Damanjodi by the government but the sight of deprivation of the tribal people living around the NALCO mines in Orissa only strengthened their resolve not to allow the government from taking their lands, their rich coffee plantations and forests which are their life support systems.
Dr. EAS Sarma urged the tribal representatives and leaders to protect their constitutional rights and stand by the people by not giving their consent to such projects and he hoped that the TAC will exercise it’s right to defend the scheduled areas from being given away to such projects. He said that the tribal people would lose their status and legal rights once they are removed from the scheduled area, defeating the very purpose of the Fifth Schedule, the LTR Act and other constitutional safeguards, and therefore called upon all political representatives, tribal groups and NGO’s to stand together in protecting the tribal lands and the tribal people.
Mrs.Bhanumathi from Samata spoke about the costs that communities pay directly and indirectly and how social equity and justice are not considered as important parameters for economic development.
Many other local organizations like A.PGirijana Sangham, Adivasi Mitra, Dhimsa Network, Crynet Collective, Laya, CARE, Action-Aid and political parties like CPI, CPI (M) also participated.