The Human Rights Forum (HRF) takes strong objection to the reported view of the AP Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC) that it does not have to hold gram sabhas in the area where it is leasing in land for bauxitemining because the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas Act) 1996 (PESA) is not applicable to major minerals.
If the APMDC thinks it is being very clever, we invite its officers to read PESA once again. Section 4 (k) and 4 (l) which refer to prior recommendation of the gram sabha or the panchayats for grant of prospecting or mining lease is confined to minor minerals, but those are not the only provisions of PESA. Under Section 4 (d), the power to safeguard and preserve the community resources, which is another name for common property resources, should be with the gram sabha.
Though the land being leased to APMDC for mining bauxite in the Visakhapatnam agency is forest land, undertaking mining in that land will affect the water resources of the neighbouring hamlets since the water retained in the bauxite hills is the source of the rivulets and subsoil water that the people depend upon. It is a well-established fact that the hills containing bauxite deposits have a good capacity for retention of water, which will be lost for ever if the hills are opened up for mining.
The land proposed to be mined is also a source of minor forest produce such as thatching and dry twigs. It is a source of grazing for animals. The ownership of such minor forest produce is conferred on the gram sabha by Section 4 (m) (ii) of PESA and tat right cannot be unilaterally taken away.
We demand that the APMDC stop acting over-intelligent and follows scrupulously the provisions of Section 4 (d), 4 (m) (ii) and the general principle in section 4 (m) that the gram panchayat in the Scheduled Areas is endowed with the power of self-government. PESA is a progressive legislation that protects the adivasi communities’ rights to land and resources in tribal areas. These rights simply cannot be overridden unlawfully.
Our state: A tribal points to the Galikonda hill range in Visakhapatnam district, the hub for the proposed mining of bauxite ore, in this file photo.
Visakhapatnam, Feb. 14:
Union Minister of Tribal AffairsKishore Chandra Deo is firm on bringing down the curtains on the bauxite controversy in the agency (tribal) area of Visakhapatnam district, which he represents, by getting the mining leases cancelled.
At a meeting convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on February 4 on the issue, he made his stand clear and wanted quick action by the Union Mining Minister Dinsha J. Patel.
The Union Mines Ministry has already given its permission to the AP Government, while the Ministry of Environment and Forests is in the process of clearing the proposal. Sources said that the Home Minister and Finance Minister were called for the meeting as the Tribal Affairs Minister had hinted to the Prime Minister that if mining was allowed it would alienate the tribals in the region, which may result in a major law and order problem.
The Finance Minister explained how the Centre was pumping in funds for development of tribal areas to combat the Maoist influence in the region, sources added.
Deo took a firm stand against mining and justified his intervention to protect the rights of the tribals enshrined in the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution, sources said.
On February 10, the Tribal Affairs Minister wrote a letter to the Minister of Mines to direct his ministry to issue a communication revoking permission to the State Government to mine bauxite in the Scheduled areas.
In the letter, he pointed out that the agreement/MoU entered into by the State Government did not flow out of an enactment of the State Legislature or Parliament and could be cancelled. The agreement was in violation of the land transfer regulations of the State Government which prohibits non-tribals from purchasing or taking on lease land in the Scheduled Areas.
“The girl passed away at about 3.45pm on Tuesday in a private hospital at Visakhapatanam,” Rayagada district collector SS Padhi told over phone.
The 16-year-old orphan, unable to bear the ignominy, had tried to immolate herself and had suffered over 80 per cent burns. She succumbed to her burn injuries after battling for life for about eight days.
The girl was forcibly taken away to a nearby jungle when she was returning home from work on the evening of January 2 and gang-raped by four persons, the police said adding she tried to immolate herself the next day.
The girl was staying with her grandmother.
Meanwhile, the police have arrested four persons in connection with the incident based on the statement given by the girl.
“Four youths have been arrested and lodged at jail in two phases. We will submit the charsgesheet within 30 days of the incident,” Rayagada superintendent of police Rajesh Pandit said.
The Petitions Committee of the Legislative Assembly has recommended scrapping of the memorandum of understanding entered into by the State government for bauxite mining in Visakhapatnam district with the Emirate of Ras al Khaimah (AnRAK) and Jindal South West Holdings Limited.
The members were unanimous in seeking cancellation of the MoUs claiming that they were not in the interest of the State and would immensely benefit the two firms.
MoUs signed by YSR
The then Congress government headed by late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy had entered into the MoUs for establishment of value added alumina plant and an industry with an estimated Rs. 9,000 crore. Accordingly, 1,212 hectares of forestland, predominantly in the agency areas, was alienated for prospecting and mining.
The issue had come under scrutiny ever since Union MinisterKishore Chandra Deo addressed a letter to the Centre recommending cancellation of the MoUs as they would affect the interests of tribals. The committee held discussions on the issue in response to a petition filed by former legislator Ch. Ramesh through Telugu Desam MLA A. Revanth Reddy.
Speaking to media after the meeting, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) legislators — P. Keshav and R. Chandrasekhar Reddy — alleged that there were several shortcomings in the MoUs. “While the mining project will yield profits to the tune of Rs. 1,200 a tonne, the MoU stipulated that the APMDC would be paid Rs. 170 a tonne.
“Giving the volume of aluminium present, the agreement will translate into huge profits for the two companies,” Mr. Keshav said.
Activists of the Dalita Hakkula Porata Samithi taking out a rally in the city on Saturday. Photo: A. Manikanta kumar
They charged the government with diverting Rs. 17,000 crore allotted for Dalit welfare during the last 10 years on its publicity programmes
The Dalita Hakkula Porata Samiti took out a rally from the Collectorate to Ambedkar statue here on Saturday as part of its district unit’s 3rd Mahasabha and to express solidarity with the victims of attack at Lakshmipeta in Srikakulam district.
At a public meeting held at the conclusion of the rally, in which a large number of students and women participated, CPI’s Legislature Party Leader Gunda Mallesh demanded that the government complete the process of bringing in the SC, ST Sub-Plan Act and sanction budget to Dalits based on their population.
He charged the government with diverting Rs. 17,000 crore allotted for Dalit welfare during the last 10 years on its publicity programmes.
He regretted that many laws made for Dalit welfare were not being implemented and attacks on Dalits continued unabated while the government was not taking stern steps.
Honorary president of the district unit J.V. Prabhakar, secretary B. Venkata Rao, president V. Jayaprakash, CPI’s district secretary J.V. Satyanarayana Murthy, MLC M.V.S. Sarma, former Minister Ch. Ayyanna Patrudu, former MLA G. Demudu and leaders of several Dalit organisations and intellectuals spoke.
The meeting commenced after the leaders garlanded the statue of Dr. Ambedkar.
A meeting of DPHS would be held at the Ambedkar Bhavan, Marripalem, on Sunday.