A  News Paper Report in Eenadu, a Telugu Daily on  17-3-06

ANDHRA 'OOTY' -LOOTED

Araku Valley -Popularly known as Andhra Ooty is famous for its scenic beauty .Gostani River with all its beauty flows down the hills towards Visakhapatnam. Borra Caves the main tourist spot is on the banks of this river with Galikonda and Rakta konda as its peripharies. People prefer to go by train which carries them through the hills and valleys, through tunnels - a feast to the eyes of the traveler.


Now- all this is going to be a thing of the past... In the name of development this area is going to be handed over to the private companies who are waiting to dig out Bauxite which is the main raw material for the aluminum companies. This would fill their coffers with millions of rupees. They are going to mine at Galikonda and Rakta konda , after which we might not see the hills again. Gostani river will not flow and Visakha will not be able to quench its parched throat since it would dry up once the mining starts. The water reservoir near Tatipudi built on the River Gostani, which is the main source of water to Visakhapatnam, would dry up. Besides this, around 15 streams and many more lakes would disappear. The beautiful waterfall "Katika" which falls from 250ft high would lose its splendour. The life of the tribal people living in this region will be destroyed.


What do we want to achieve by losing all this?
Just a handful of coins.

The Government has decided to hand over this invaluable mineral wealth found in our beautiful hills, to a private company. These bauxite reserves have been given to the ruling party M.P's Jindal Aluminum Company, which, in turn, is inviting the multinational company called B.H.P Billion to start its work. Recently a group of experts surveyed this area on behalf of this company and decided to invest Rs.20,000 crores to mine Bauxite.


The government is trying to find back door ways of violating the supreme court orders. It itself is willing to become a middle man for the companies and thereby kicking aside tribal rights. It is completely destroying the natural beauty.

The Eastern Ghats have now attracted the attention of the bauxite industry because of the rich bauxite ore which can be tapped at very low costs and with this they can further process the ore into alumina at dirt cheap rates. As the global demand for alumina has sharply rise, all the industries in this sector have cast their eyes on this area. That may be the reason why NALCO, which had earlier dallied with the state government's invitation to extract bauxite is now very enthusiastic. Now it is one of the contenders. This once again proves the increase in the demand for bauxite. Meanwhile Jindal Southwest Holding Company was allotted 2466 hectares of land and an M.O.U was signed in a hurry.

In the name of Mining and development:
The Supreme Court has already passed a judgment with regard to mining in the "Samata" case, but Government tried to circumvent this through the back door. Bauxite is available in Visakha, East Godavari districts in Orissa in Andhra Pradesh and in Orissa. Our state has 1000 million tons of bauxite ore out of which 540 million tons is located in one area alone. Out of these, 240 million tons has been allotted to Jindals. As non tribals cannot own leases or extract from the tribal area, the Jindals have worked out a neat deal through obtaining the ore from APMDC and that the Jindal will provide all equipment for this purpose. Even if the lease were, on paper, given to APMDC, from the blocks allotted to Jindals not even a single ton of ore will be supplied to any other buyer. This only proves the fact that the department is only a cover for Jindal so that the law that a nontribal cannot mine in this area would not legally affect the company.

How is this Beneficial to the Government?
Since the manufacturers of aluminum have taken lease the price for the ore cannot be fixed by the Government. On an average out of 6 tons of Bauxite we get one ton of aluminum. At present aluminum rate is around 5534/-Raw aluminum per tonaruoundRs.42727,SheetsRs.70000/- per ton. Till date various companies paid a royalty of rs.58 to rs.90 per ton.How much will the Government get as royalty for 240 million tonnes?If the royalty is around Rs.100/-it would earn around2400 crores per year. And if the life of the plant is around 30 to 40 years and there would be a hike in the royalty during the course of the time the amount would be around 5000 crore rupees. Besides the mines an ore department would receive an income for the activity done.In Hyderabad 4000square yards land was recently auctioned for Rs.335 crores which was a good income for the Government what would be the income for 6000 acres of land, lives of many tribal villages, the natural beauty, and the water resources? The Government which is talking of transparency shelved it by not calling for Global tenders. This would have ensured more income to the Government.


IMPACT OF MINING IN OUR STATE:
Our state has Bauxite ore in around 4775 hectares of land. 2446 hectares has been leased to Jindal.and it is proposed to give the remaining areas to NALCO and BHP.The impact of mining in this area would affect another 2500 hectares. The villages which would face the effect cover East and West Godavari and Visakha .The word Bauxite has now became a Nightmare to the residents of these villages.Andhrapradesh Girijan society, Samatha and many others have raised their voices in support of these villagers.


MINISTER'S INTEREST:
Central Government Minister T.Subburami Reddy was forth coming with the assurance that he would bring Visakha Aluminum Plant as a boon to the district. It is just a coincidence that he is heading the Ministry of Mines and Minerals. And represents the area where Bauxite is found. During his visit after taking up the office he reiterated his interest in mining Bauxite and providing "employment" to people of this district.


COMPLAINT TO SONIA GANDHI:
Jindal aluminum project turned out to be a controversy. Retired Central Government Secretary E.A.S.Sarma has written a letter to Sonia Gandhi that the M.O.U. between the Jindal Company and Andhra Pradesh Government is unconstitutional and invalid. Central Government has agreed to give fifty percent partner ship to the tribals whose land has been taken for mining but this has not been implemented in this agrrement.He sent a protest to Human rights commission in this regard.