The hills are on fire, as massive project goes through "on the nod"Published by MAC on 2007-12-23
The hills are on fire, as massive project goes through "on the nod"
23rd December 2007
Outrage erupted last week in eastern Andhra Pradesh, India, as the giant Jindal company was apparently cleared for bauxite mining and construction of an alumina refininery in a region noted for its forests, hills (ghats), indigenous peoples, sustainable agriculture, and scarcity of water.
An alliance of political parties, local communities and the NGO, Samata, accuse both the state government and India's environmental ministry of riding roughshod over clear opposition to both projects, expressed in recent public hearings.
Farmers refuse to part with lands; company promises jobs, shares
23rd December 2007
`When the Godavari water diversion scheme was formulated, there was no allocation for the Jindal refinery. The GVMC cannot now sell water to the Jindals.'
Vizianagaram June 4. There was overwhelming opposition to the setting up of Jindal's alumina refinery at Boddavara village in the S. Kota mandal of Vizianagaram district at a public hearing conducted by the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB) on Monday.
It was the second time the public hearing was being conducted on setting up the refinery. Earlier, it was proposed to be set up at Sabbavaram in Visakhapatnam district and a public hearing was held in Visakhapatnam, but that plan was given up later, as the company found the land rates too high.
BONE OF CONTENTION
On two grounds, there was stiff opposition to the setting up of the refinery in Vizianagaram district - the farmers refused to part with their lands and, secondly, many individuals and organisations opposed water supply to the refinery by the Greater Visakha Municipal Corporation (GVMC).
The representatives of Telugu Desam Party, BJP, Lok Satta, and both the Communist parties spoke against the setting up of the refinery at Boddavara.
Besides, Samata, an NGO, the Human Rights Forum, the Andhra Pradesh Rythu Sangham and several other organisations opposed the refinery. Girijans, and their representatives in particular, were vociferous in their opposition to the setting up of the refinery.
Mr G. Srinivasa Rao, former member of the Lok Sabha and Telugu Desam leader, said the Government was resorting to prevarication and deliberately seeking to mislead the people on the water issue.
"It was at first not very clear from where the water required for the refinery would be drawn. It was not clearly mentioned in the documents furnished by the Government before the public hearing. Suddenly, a statement was issued on Saturday that the Greater Visakha Municipal Corporation (GVMC) would supply 8 mgd of water from the Godavari water scheme, but it is not the solution," he said.
Drinking water needs
Mr Rao argued that in order to meet the drinking water needs of Visakhapatnam city water from Raiwada and Tatipudi reservoirs, both in Vizianagaram district, was being drawn and to that extent the interests of farmers were being sacrificed. The farmers had agreed to the proposal only to quench the thirst of Vizag.
"Therefore, to meet the drinking water needs of Vizag city and certain specified industries, the Godavari water diversion scheme was formulated and implemented during the Telugu Desam regime. There was no allocation then for the Jindal refinery. The GVMC cannot now sell water to the Jindals. Not only will it hit the drinking water needs of Vizag city, but indirectly hit the interests of farmers under Raiwada and Tatipudi reservoirs. There is no surplus water with the GVMC for supply to the Jindals. The GVMC cannot take up water business at the expense of farmers," he said.
Several other speakers echoed the same view. Mr Bhisetti A. Babji, the District Co-ordinator of the Lok Satta, said the Government should not ruin the agricultural lands in the area for the sake of the refinery. Arid lands were available elsewhere and they should be acquired for the purpose.
Mr Vachaspati, Vice-President of Jindal Southwest, explained the proposed refinery and assured the farmers and others that the relief and rehabilitation package prepared by the Government would be sincerely implemented. The displaced would get jobs and even shares in the refinery.
Mr M. Jaganmohan, Joint Collector of Vizianagaram district, who conducted the proceedings, said that 32 out the 35 speakers opposed the idea of setting up a refinery at Boddavara. "Their views have been recorded and the public opinion will be communicated to the State Government," he said.
Letter from Samata to India's Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF)
To: Shri Pradipto Gosh,
Secretary Govt of India
MOEF, New Delhi
December 23 2007
Subjrect: Environment Clearance to JSWA ltd Bauxite Refinery in AP
Ref:- 1.Your letter No: F. No. J-11011/431/2006- IA II (I) dated 23/03/07
2. Minutes of the Public hearing dated 04/06/07 obtained under RTI.
3. Article in The Hindu regarding refusal of 8MGD water from GVMC to Jinadl refinery dated 04/07/07
4. Advertisement of the JSWA ltd in the news paper Hindu dated 23/12/07 announcing the clearance from MOEF
We have seen the advertisement of the Jindals in The Hindu and other newspapers today announcing the clearance accorded to JSW Aluminium Ltd as per reference 1st cited .
It is shocking to see that the MOEF has accorded clearance even though 96% of the people that attended the EPH held on 04/06/07 at Boddavara had objected to the project being set up at the site as per reference 2nd cited above, on various reasons mainly due to the impending displacement of large number of rural and tribal families living at the proposed site including number of villages, Providing incorrect and misleading information on the project to the people and the issue of water supply to the proposed plant.
This raises the important issue of the sanctity of the whole process of EPH being held and eliciting the opinions of the local people and the role of APPCB, CPCB and your own Ministry (MOEF)
Secondly I would like to bring to your notice that there is no prior permission for 8MGD (million gallons a day) of water that is required for the project as it stands withdrawn as per the reference 3rd cited above in the council meeting held at GVMC on 03/07/07.
Going by the clearance letter 1st cited which is issued by you on 23/03/07 I fail to understand if the clearance was already issued by MOEF without considering the objections raised by 96% of the people who attended the EPH that was held on 04/06/07 and without looking into the important issue of prior permission for 8 MGD of water and various other TOR's that are mentioned in your clearance letter dated 23/03/07
What does this mean? Does it mean that you have accorded clearance even without verifying the facts of the EPH and the issue of prior permission for supply of 8 MGD of water or you have considered all the above and issued a pre dated clearance. It is very confusing and misleading. In your letter 1st cited above you also speak of various TOR's and also about final EIA/EMP for "consideration the proposal for of final clearance"? Then what does this mean?
Therefore I would like to know the position as on today clearly:-
Is this the final clearance for the proposed JSWA ltd plant? If so how is MOEF and concerned departments addressing the objections raised by 96% of the people in the EPH? And where does the JSWA ltd going to get the 8 MGD of water that is required?
I therefore demand that the clearance be withdrawn forthwith and the concerned officers and the project proponent are booked as per law for misleading the MOEF, the government and the people.
Executive Director, SAMATA
Copy to :
1. Dr. P.B.Rastogi Additional secretary , MOEF, New Delhi
2. Shri Busi Sam Bob, Prl.Secretary to Govt & CIP, Industries and Commerce dept, AP
3. Smt. Y Lakshmi, IAS, Secretary to Govt of AP, I & C dept
4. Smt Janaki Kondapi, IAS, Spl Chief Secretary GOAP, Environment and Forest Dept
5. Member secretary , APPCB, hyderabad
6. Shri P.V.padmanabham, Conservator Forests , Vizag Circle
7. District Collector, Vizianagaram
8. Jt. Collector, Vizianagaram
9. Ramesh Ch Swain , project head JSWA ltd
Samata Hyderabad Office: Plot No. 169, Ravi Colony, Tirumalagiri, Secunderabad – 500 015 AP, India
Telefax:040-27992488, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
APMDC gets mining lease without survey?
19th December 2007
VISAKHAPATNAM: The Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC) has obtained mineral concession approval from the Ministry of Mines without a proper survey on bauxite mining plan in Jerrila hill range of Chintapalle reserve forest in the district.
The controversial decision came notwithstanding the fact that the survey team appointed by APMDC had to make a hasty retreat from entering the proposed mining area following resistance from Maoists and local tribals. After a notification for expression of interest to prepare bauxite mining plan and survey demarcation of deposits on April 3, 2007, the APMDC entrusted the job to a registered geologist, who is an adviser on its board, for a fee of Rs. 85 lakhs, according to sources.
On its website, the Ministry of Mines disclosed the clearance of APMDC's mining lease in four blocks with a total extent of 1,649 hectares.
"But our enquiries reveal that there was no survey done by APMDC or its consultants and the last survey was done way back in 1970s by Geological Survey of India.
Even the Ministry was fed with wrong data by APMDC to obtain the approval," Samata executive director Rebbapragda Ravi said.
Ras-Al-Khaimah, a kingdom in United Arab Emirates, signed a memorandum of understanding with AP Government in early 2007 for supply of bauxite ore for its alumina refinery proposed in Makavarapalem mandal at a cost of Rs.9,000 crores.
According to Mr. Ravi, as per GSI data, block one to four in Jerrela had 1,162 hectares but APMDC showed it as 1,649 hectares for the reasons best known to it.
The survey report should be forwarded to the Ministry for consideration after submitting it to Indian Bureau of Mines.
The APMDC is also waiting for clearance of its application for mining in Araku and Galikonda blocks to supply bauxite ore to Jindal South West Aluminium Limited which has an investment plan of Rs.10,000 crores.
The Opposition parties and NGOs are up in arms against mining as they feel that APMDC, which does not have the expertise, will engage companies floated by or close to Jindal and Ras-Al-Khaimah to mine on its behalf, circumventing Samata judgment.
Leaders vow to continue fight against bauxite mining
Special Correspondent , The Hindu
19th December 2007
VISAKHAPATNAM: Leaders of Telugu Desam, CPI, CPI (M) and POW asserted here on Tuesday that the agitation against mining of bauxite in Visakha agency area and setting up of alumina refineries in Visakhapatnam and Vizianagaram districts would continue till the Government withdrew its decision.
The leaders talked to reporters before they along with their party workers were sent inside the Central Jail here for remand. Thirty seven persons, including Sobha Hymavathi of TDP, V. Kameswara Rao, CPI (M), Tammineni Suryanarayana, CPI and Chinnatalli of POW, were arrested at S. Kota on Monday when 'siege Tahsildar office' was held and employees were not allowed to enter the offices premises. This was part of the programme launched by the opposition parties even as the Government was making all efforts to go ahead with mining of bauxite and establishment of alumina refineries at Boddavara in S. Kota mandal of Vizianagaram district and in Makavarapalem in Visakhapatnam district.
A court in S. Kota remanded the 37 persons till December 29 and they were all brought here to be lodged in the Central Jail. However, the leaders and others had to wait outside the jail gate as the jail authorities asked the escorting police party to provide lunch to the remanded persons as the lunch time in jail was over.
When lunch was not provided immediately all the 37 sat in front of the Gandhi statue. After some time the police served them tiffin. They were later allowed into the jail. Talking to reporters Ms. Hymavathi said the agitation would be stopped only after the Government takes a decision not to go ahead with mining and refineries. Mr. Kameswara Rao said a State-wide agitation would be launched if necessary while Mr. Suryanarayana said arrest of some leaders and workers would not stop the agitation as thousands of Girijans and farmers were out there strongly opposing mining and refineries.
TDP MLA Ganta Srinivasa Rao, who met the arrested persons, said the strong will of the farmers, Girijans and people in plain area could not be suppressed.