Former Union Secretary EAS Sarma on Friday demanded withdrawal of e-tender issued by Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC) for working of calcite mining lease of 8,725 hectares at Nimmalapadu village in Anantagiri mandal of Visakhapatnam district on ‘raising cum-sale contract.
In a letter to Chief Secretary Adityanath Das, he said the notification issued by the Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation 9APMDC) was in gross violation of the provisions of the Panchayat (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) and the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act (FRA), which are applicable to Nimmalapadu as it lies within the notified Scheduled areas of Visakhapatnam.
The development has been strongly opposed by tribal and mining activists. A mining lease undertaken by Birla Periclase Limited in 1997, which was challenged in the Supreme Court by Samata, an NGO fighting for tribal rights, had led to the landmark judgment which stated that only the State or its instrumentalities or the tribes themselves forming into a cooperative society have the right to undertake to mine in scheduled areas.
Speaking to Hello Vizag, Chompi Prasad, president of Sri Abhaya Girijana Mutually Aided Labour Contract Cooperative Society Ltd said that the ruling is known in various circles as Samata judgment. The present e-tender violates PESA (Panchayat Extension in Scheduled Areas Act) and Forest Rights Act (1996) of 2006. Prasad, who hails from Karakavalasa village said if required they would be constrained to approach the judiciary to rescind the notification.
He said after the Samata judgment, the lease of Birla Periclase was transferred to APMDC, who instead of following the Supreme Court ruling, gave two tribal individuals and one lease to Durga Sandstone MAC Society. For 10 years the tribal communities of the three villages started their own society supported by the grama sabha-Abhaya Society and have been demanding that as the lands belong to them, they should be given the lease.
“The APMDC has turned a deaf ear to representations to give the leases to tribal societies due to reasons best known to it. Benami tribal persons had been given lease to circumvent the apex court judgment,” bemoaned Samata executive director Rebbapragada Ravi. He said Samata demands that the e-tender be withdrawn and the local tribal society be given the said lease failing which APMDC might face several complications.