Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jaganmohan Reddy took a significant decision not to allow bauxite mining in the Eastern Ghats in Visakhapatnam district of the state, one of the main reasons for Maoist activity in the region. In September last year, a TDP law maker and a former MLA were gunned down by Maoists in Araku valley for their pro-mining stance.
The decision to scrap the deals was taken by the chief minister on the second day of the two-day Collectors and SPs conference here at Prajavedikam conventional hall.
“The government is not going to lose anything by giving up bauxite mining. Peace in tribal areas is more important for us than money”, Jagan said.
The earlier order, issued in November 2015, had empowered the State Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC) to mine bauxite in 1212 hectares in 13 stretches in Chintapalli and Gudem Kotha Veedhi revenue blocks in Visakhapatnam district. However, the government put it in abeyance following protests by local tribals and environmentalists in Visakha agency areas and also Koraput in Odisha.
Jindal South West Aluminum Limited and Anrak Aluminum Limited (AAL), a joint venture of Penna Group and Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority signed MoUs. But the mining activity never kicked off, with the tribals resisting the activity that will affect their livelihood.
As a result, Anrak cancelled the MOU and made its arrangements in Odisha.
Jagan Reddy further directed the officials to adopt a friendly approach with the tribals in the agency area to keep them away from the influence of the outlawed Maoist Party. He asked the district-level officials to make a night stay at the agency areas once in a month and personally understand the problems faced by the tribals.
He also asked the officials to provide alternative employment to tribals, who were found indulging in ganja cultivation. “Don’t be serious about punishing them for the offence. Focus on providing them alternative income sources to desist them from cultivating ganja”, he said.
Following the YSRCP government’s decision, Human Rights Society (HRS) president Dasari Srinivasulu, in a statement said "Bauxite mining is not only detrimental to the environment and tribals’ livelihoods but also very affects the water from Sabari and Sileru into river Godavari. Thus, the Polavaram project, the lifeline of AP, would have become a victim of the bauxite mining".