The Hindu | Santosh Patnaik | Friday, Aug 12, 2005
VISAKHAPATNAM: Even before grounding work, the Jindal South West Holding Limited (JSWHL), which wants to set up an alumina smelter and refinery in the district at a cost of Rs. 9,000 crores, is facing a rough weather.
The JSWHL can win its first battle in its quest for making use of huge bauxite deposits only when it can overcome protests from various social action groups.
However, this is going to be a Herculean task for the Jindal group, looking at the firm resolve expressed by the anti-mining groups to oppose lock, stock and barrel its plan to extract bauxite through Andhra Pradesh Mining Development Corporation.
The Andhra Pradesh Girijan Sangham is in the forefront of sensitising the tribals against the adverse impact of mining in the lush-green reserve forests of the Eastern Ghats by undertaking a 300-km.-long padayatra in the naxal-infested G.K. Veedhi mandal. The next round will begin on Saturday in Araku and Anantagiri mandals.
The Dandakaranya Liberation Organisation, dubbed by the district police as an outfit having connections with the CPI (Maoist) is also doing its bit by organising certain sections against bauxite mining. The naxalites have already declared their opposition to mining which, they say, is against the letter and spirit of Regulation 1/70 of the Land Transfer (prevention) Regulation Act.
Various anti-mining groups, including Samata, have launched a vigorous campaign against mining after their remarkable success in stopping Birla Periclase in going ahead with its mining project in Nimmalapadu-Damuku area in the mid-1990s.
During their campaign, these groups are telling girijans that no mining project will provide them jobs as modern-day mining companies employ only a handful of people. “Even in Nalco and other mining projects, very few girijans are employed. The large population of girijans who have migrated from Orissa to Vizag agency are those displaced from mining and multi-purpose projects in Orissa in the last five decades,” points out Samata executive director Ravi Rebbapragada.
The Andhra Pradesh Girijan Sangham has also condemned the bid by the mining officials to hold an awareness `sadassu’ at Anantagiri and an attempt being made to send a group of local youth on a `junket’ to Damonjodi to show them how Nalco’s alumina project has ushered in development in backward Koraput district.
“Our traditional weapons — bow and arrows — will have to be used to stop mining. We had stopped mining by Dubal Alumina Company by opposing it at the Tribal Advisory Committee meeting in May 2000,” said Bhadrachalam MLA Sunnam Rajaiah.
According to the anti-mining activists, the Samata judgment clearly nullifies that private mining in the Scheduled Area is not merely a technical issue but also upholds the very spirit of the Constitution, which aims at protecting the tribals and the ecological wealth.