Santosh Patnaik-A big question mark over the investment plans of Nalco
NGOs’ activists opposing mining have hailed the directive of Union Tribal Welfare Minister V. Kishore Chandra Deo to the State Government to rescind bauxite mining leases given to AP Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC) in the scheduled areas.
The decision puts a big question mark over the investment plans of National Aluminium Company (Nalco), Jindal South West Aluminium Limited and Anrak Aluminium Limited. Anrak is in an advanced stage of commissioning its alumina refinery at Rachapalle in Makavarapalem mandal, about 120 km from Visakhapatnam.
Alumina giant Nalco and Jindal and Anrak, both private companies, together have investment proposals for over Rs.25,000 crore after signing MoU with the State Government.
Anrak wants to operate its refinery by exporting bauxite ore from Gujarat, Odisha, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh.
After appealing to Andhra Pradesh Governor to intervene and stop bauxite mining, he formally passed instructions to the Chief Secretary to order cancellation of licences on environmental grounds and to abide by Supreme Court’s famous Samata judgment.
The ruling, dubbed by many as a landmark order, says that only the State, its instruments or tribal themselves forming into a cooperative society should explore the minerals in the Fifth Schedule areas.
R. Sridhar, chairperson of mines, minerals and People (an umbrella organisation for anti-mining NGOs), told The Hindu that Mr. Deo’s directive was very important development in the mining industry.
“We hail his bold decision and hope that licences given in Fifth Schedule areas of Odisha and other States will also be revoked,” he said and demanded that the State Governments not undermine the sanctity of Tribal Advisory Committees and the views of tribals.
Samata executive director Rebbapragda Ravi described the Minister’s order as ‘most significant development’ in recent years and sought action against efforts to circumvent Samata judgement in various ways.
He said the order vindicated their stand that bauxite mining would change the course of water bodies emanating from the hilly streams and dry up rivers in the plains.