DISTRICT collector of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh cancelled the lease to mine China clay in the area on May 16. The move was in response to the sustained protests by tribal residents, who say land was allotted to outsiders without their consent.
The collector, J Syamala Rao, said action would be taken against the tehsildar for issuing a no-objection certificate for mining China clay at Sarayi village in Dumbriguda mandal of Visakhapatnam. The mandal has an estimated 611,000 tonnes of China clay in over 16 hectares.
On May 10, tribal women chased away Mandal Parishad president K Danne Rao and MLA Siveri Soma, throwing cow dung at them and demanding explanation for granting the licence to mine in their village.
The mining department had issued the licence in June 2007, allowing mining of 15,000 tonnes per annum. It was issued in the name of Muchchika Bhudevi, who turned out to be a tribal woman from the West Godavari district. But Rao says, “The state never gave permission for mining.”
The mining department asked for a no-objection certificate for the project from the Dumbriguda tehsildar. Without ascertaining facts and holding public consultation, the tehsildar issued the certificate. Nobody approached the gram sabha for permission to mine, a pre-requisite under the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act of 1996. The address given in the application for mining lease “is of a big mansion in the Visakhapatnam city”, says V S Krishna of the Human Rights Forum, a non-profit in Andhra Pradesh. The attempt to camouflage a private company’s dealing as a contract undertaken by a tribal woman is blatant, he adds.
According to media reports, Bhudevi herself was not aware of the licence. Rao says, “The district administration will conduct an inquiry into the issuance of the non-objection certificate.”
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