HYDERABAD: In a complete U-turn of his earlier stand, AP chief minister Chandrababu Naidu has approved bauxite mining in 1,212 hectares (nearly 3,000 acres) of land in Chintapalli area of Jerrila village in Narsipatnam forest division of Visakhapatnam district. Interestingly, it was Naidu who wrote a letter to governor ESL Narasimhan seeking scrapping of the MoUs entered with two private companies for mining bauxite in 2011.
In his letter, Naidu had demanded a ban on bauxite mining stating that it "will deplete and pollute water sources such as Sarada, Champavati and Gostani rivers that originate in the region. The impact on the tribal livelihood will be disastrous, to say the least."
But according to TDP sources, Naidu was never against bauxite mining and was only opposed to handing over the lucrative mining lease to private companies.
On Thursday, the AP government issued GO No. 97 handing over the mining lease to AP Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC) asking it to take necessary precautions to protect the environment and reforestation activity to substitute the loss of forests.
However, Naidu in his earlier letter had stated, "APMDC has neither the technical and financial capability nor experience in taking up such a vast enterprise. The company was used as a puppet to further the interests of corporate houses." He had asked the governor to intervene and cancel the agreements as it will damage the environment and endanger the livelihood of thousands of families living in Narsipatnam tribal area.
The ruling TDP cadre in Visakhapatnam and Vizianagaram are opposed to bauxite mining, particularly after Maoists kidnapped three TDP leaders recently. The had released the leaders after reportedly securing an assurance that the TDP government would not permit mining in the area.
Taking a strong objection to the government order, the YSR Congress Party on Friday said that bauxite mining in tribal areas cannot be carried out without the consent of locals. It described the mining permission as a gross violation of existing rules.
"The TDP was very vociferous and had written a strongly worded letter to the governor when the party was in opposition. But after coming to power, it made a U-turn and issued the GO allowing the state-owned mining corporation to go ahead with the activity," YSRCP MLA Rajanna Dora said.
The main opposition has accused TDP of cashing in on the absence of a tribal advisory board. The TDP government issued the permission without fulfilling the formalities, including panchayat permission, Dora said. Environmental rules make it clear that no mining activity should be taken up in the agency area without a resolution being passed by the panchayat and tribal advisory board.