India updatePublished by MAC on 2007-04-07
7th April 2007
HEALTH OF THE HILLS IS WEALTH OF THE PLAINS
5-15 April 2007
Campaign in the plains
Press statement by SAMATA
The north coastal region of Andhra Pradesh is renowned not only in the state of Andhra Pradesh but in the country as well. Northern Andhra and East Godavari districts are known for their richness in natural wealth and water resources. Forming a part of the Eastern Ghats the region borders the state of Orissa with rivers like Vamsadhara, Nagavali, Gosthani and Yelaru originating here contributing to the richness and fertility of the land. These life giving rivers are the main source of drinking water for thousands of people in cities, towns and villages. Reservoirs built on these rivers supply water to lakhs of acres for agriculture and cultivation. Is it then possible to imagine that these life giving rivers supplying water to the regions are currently being threatened with large scale water pollution?
The proposed mining activities of the government in the Eastern Ghats will cause just that by adversely polluting the water sources in north coastal region of Andhra Pradesh. The state government last year has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Jindal Steel to undertake bauxite mining in the Visakhapatnam tribal belt. Since then the tribal people of the region have been protesting against the proposed mining demanding that their right to land be recognized and respected. Tribal people who are dependent on the forest for their livelihood have been asking the government not to destroy their very existence by allowing the mining to take place. They demand that the constitutional safeguards provided under the Fifth Schedule, judgment of the Supreme Court and their rights be upheld by the government. On the one hand when the tribal people are demanding that the MoU with Jindal Steel be terminated, the government on the other hand has gone ahead and signed a new MoU with a gulf country Ras al Khyma to undertake mining.
All thess actions for exploiting the people are being carried out by the government without consulting the Gram Sabhas in the villages and in violation of the laws laid down under Panchayati Raj (Extension to Schedule Areas ) Act. This problem that is currently troubling the tribal people is now also threatening the existence of the people in the plains.
Massive destruction of the plains!
The government without any scientific basis claims that mining of these mineral rich hills will not in any way harm the region. In truth these bauxite rich hills act as a vast sponge soaking in the rainwater and retaining it thereby recharging the streams and rivers flowing in the region. This water is then used to meet the needs of the plain areas.
The hills rich in bauxite are found in the Eastern Ghats extending into the state of Orissa from northern Andhra Pradesh. In 2003, Kalpavriksh, a non governmental organization (NGO) based in Pune had conducted a study on the impacts of mining. The study titled "Undermining India" clearly states that bauxite mining in Visakhapatnam district will adversely affect the river systems of Gosthani, Machkand, Sileru and Sharada.
The state Forest Department (FD) has also stated that mining would endanger the environment of Eastern Ghats and affect its species diversity. The FD had submitted a report to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India stating that the water supply to the plain areas would drastically reduce and also be extensively polluted. Experts in the fields of geology and mining, environmentalists and NGOs have also said that bauxite mining would compound the problem of scarcity of water for drinking purposes and agriculture.
Is it possible to imagine the effects of this pollution on the existence of people in the plains dependent on the 19 rivers and 27 reservoirs in the districts of East Godavari Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam? How apathetic is a government that supports these private mining companies and turns a deaf ear to the needs of the common man? Should mining be started in the Eastern Ghats the tribal people in the hills will get compensation and rehabilitation but what is to happen to those affected in the long term by scarcity of water in the plain areas? While industrialization is increasing the pressure on water resources the reservoirs constructed are supplying water mainly to industries, towns and cities with very little being made available to the farmers for cultivation purposes. Can we think of a future where mining will destroy water resources and threaten availability of water?
People of the plains awake and be aware!
People of the plains depending on these water sources awake! Bauxite mining in agency areas not only destroys the hills but the rivers and our very lives. The mining of these bauxite rich hills of Eastern Ghats which are the birthplace of life giving rivers is happening silently. If this continues the rivers in the region between Srikakulam and East Godavari will be wiped out of existence. Reservoirs between Vamsadhara and Yeluru will no longer have water but will be faced with the danger of turning into wastelands. Every drop of water for drinking or agriculture would become precious. National level studies clearly show the bitter experience Orissa suffered because of mining.
Be careful! Be forewarned. Be a part of the anti bauxite mining rally in the plain areas organized by Samata in cooperation with NGOs and peoples association between 5th and 15th April 2007. Be a part of this river protection campaign starting on Babu Jagjivan Ram Jayanti and concluding on Dr Ambedkar Jayanthi and covering the districts of Srikakulam, Viziangaram, Visakhapatnam and East Godavari. Work towards pressurizing the government to stop mining in the hill areas. And make the rivers bounty be accessible to the future generations. Representatives of people from plain areas, experts, students, journalists, farmers, Agricultural labour groups are all requested o be a part of this campaign.
Rivers and reservoirs affected by proposed bauxite mining:
Rivers: Vamsadhara, Nagavali, Mahendratanaya, Bahuda
Reservoirs: Vamsadhara, Thotapalli, Narayanapuram, Paidigam,Maduvalasa, Peddagedda, Moliyaputti
Rivers: Gautami, Nagavali, Champavathi, Vedavathi, Gomukhi, Suwarnamukhi
Irrigation projects: Janghavati, Thotapalli, Peddagedda, Tarakaramatheerthasagar, Denkada, Thatipodi, Andra
Rivers: Sarada, Varaha, Thandava, Machkand, Gosthani
Reservoirs: Thandava, Ryvada, Konam, Ravanapalli, Kalyanapulova, Gambhiramgedda, Meghadrigedda, Mudusorlova
Dist: East Godavari
Rivers: Thandava, Pampa, Yeleru
Reservoirs: Thandava, Pampa, Maddigedda, Subbareddisaar, Yeleru, Musurumilli, Surampalem, Bhoopathypalem
For details contact: Samata, Door No 14-40-1, Krishnavihar, Gokhale Road, Emani Colony, Maharanipeta, Visakhapatnam 530 002 Ph : 0891-2737662
Tele/fax +91 891 2737662, 2737653