Mining Dept Awaits Rules for Bauxite Extraction
VIJAYAWADA: The officials of Mines and Geology Department are awaiting guidelines on bauxite mining in the agency area of Visakhapatnam district in the wake of Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu announcing, on Tuesday, in the AP Legislative Assembly, that the GO No: 222 issued on August 13, 2008 stood cancelled. By GO No: 222, the then YS Rajasekhara Reddy government had directed the AP Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC) to enter into a bauxite supply agreement with M/s Anrak Aluminum Ltd. The bauxite supply agreement was signed on October 30, 2008. The agreement was for supply of bauxite from four blocks in Jerrela in Chintapalli Reserve Forest Area. According to reliable sources, the GO: No: 97 issued on November 5 this year, however, has neither been put on hold nor scrapped. It related to allotment of 1,212 hectares of forest land in the Agency areas of Visakhapatnam to the APMDC for bauxite mining. In fact, the GO No: 97 was issued at a time when the state government was trying to paint a picture that it would not do anything that would hurt the interests of the tribals and the Chief Minister had even gone on record saying that after he came to power last year, he had not yet revisited bauxite mining policy.
The issue of the GO caused embarrassment to Naidu to no end who immediately ordered an inquiry into how it had been issued without his notice. Even the issue was discussed at length in the cabinet meeting and later I and PR minister Palle Raghunath Reddy had gone on record saying that the GO was issued without the knowledge of the minister concerned. Industries Secretary M Girija Shankar, on the sidelines of a networking conference with mineral based industries in Vijayawada, on Wednesday said that his department was awaiting guidelines in the wake of cancellation of the GO: No: 222 pertaining to the government allowing APMDC to enter into an agreement with Anrak Aluminum Ltd for supply of bauxite. “The GO No: 222 related to APMDC and ANRAK. But the GO No: 97 related to approval the state has got from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for diversion of forest land to APMDC for mining of bauxite,” Girija Shankar said, implying that no work has begun in identifying any agency for purchasing bauxite from APMDC.
Asked if the government would go in for bidding for purchase of bauxite from APMDC in the wake of cancellation of GO No: 222, Girija Shankar said that his department was waiting to hear from the government. “We are yet to get guidelines on this,” he said. The GO No: 97 was issued after MoEF gave clearance to the proposal of the state forest department for transfer of forest land to APMDC with the condition that at no stage measures for environment protection should be compromised. He however made it clear that if any decision is taken by the government for mining of bauxite by APMDC, it would be done only after making an environment and social impact assessments. “If the government decides to go in for bauxite mining, all the concerns of the tribals would be addressed. It would move forward only after satisfying itself that tribals interests and environment protection are not compromised,” Girija Shankar said.