Tribal leaders urged to oppose miningPublished by MAC on 2008-07-09
Source: The Hindu (2008-07-08)
State not abiding by SC judgment given in 1997: Samata
It is leading to disputes among local tribals; state accused of exploiting mineral wealth
8th July 2008
1VISAKHAPATNAM: Samata, an NGO working for the rights of tribals, has deplored the attitude of AP Mineral Development Corporation in trying to handover the mining rights for the exploitation of minerals in the agency areas to private companies. Executive director of the organisation Rebbapragada Ravi alleged that the APMDC's efforts to handover the lease to private persons was leading to disputes among the tribals of different villages.
He appealed to the tribal leaders and youth to react to the problem immediately failing which the problems being encountered as a result of mining in Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand would crop up in the agency areas of Visakhapatnam district also.
He recalled that Samata, in association with local tribals, had waged a legal battle against the leasing of calcite mines in Rallavalasa, Karakavalasa and Nimmalapadu of Anantagiri mandal to Birla Company. A majority bench of the Supreme Court had given a historic judgment in 1997 against the leasing of mines in tribal areas to private companies under Fifth Schedule of the Constitution. The judgment had resulted in the annulling of all mining leases that were granted in Visakhapatnam agency till then.
He alleged that the State Government instead of abiding by the judgment and protecting the interests of tribals was trying to handover mining leases to private parties through the APMDC. The Government has made agreements with Jindal and Ras-Al-Khaima through the APMDC without inviting global tenders.
Mr. Ravi further alleged that fresh efforts were being made to benefit certain private persons by mining minerals like calcite and mica in a lesser extent. There were indications that leases would be obtained in the names of tribals and mining would be done through private agencies. Though the efforts were being thwarted by the villagers of Rallavalasa and Nimmalapadu from time to time, the Government also seemed bent on exploiting the mineral wealth of the Agency even if that meant violation of tribal rights, he alleged
Quoting the findings of a study done by the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment, he said that all the 50 districts in the country, where mining was being done, were in the list of the 150 most backward districts. This was an indication that mining would not improve the living conditions of the locals in any way.
He appealed to tribal leaders owing allegiance to various political parties to oppose the efforts of the Government and APMDC to deprive the tribals of their rights.