The Andhra Pradesh government has denied the opposition’s allegations that illegal mining of bauxite was taking place in Visakhapatnam district in the guise of laterite mining. Principal Secretary (Mines) Gopal Krishna Dwivedi told the media on Saturday, July 10, that the area in Nathavaram mandal where laterite mining had been allowed only had the presence of laterite and not bauxite, as per reports of the Geological Survey of India (GSI) and the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM). The opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has been alleging that there is a ‘bauxite scam’ going on in the state, where the government was illegally mining bauxite in the guise of laterite mining.
“In the area in dispute, which is being raised repeatedly, there is no bauxite. A GSO report from 2010 categorically said that in Bhamidika village of Nathavaram mandal, laterite is the mineral available,” Dwivedi reporters. He stated that while action has been taken against illegal mining of laterite in quantity exceeding that permitted by the government, no bauxite mining has been happening in the contested region. Dwivedi said that there are six laterite mining leases in Visakhapatnam district, five of which were granted under the previous TDP government.
Of these six leases, one is set to expire and is not in operation as no minerals were found, he said. Two of the leases were not operational due to lack of road connectivity, while two were not working as it was found that they had illegally mined 2.3 lakh tonnes of laterite, for which a penalty of around Rs 19 crore was levied, Dwivedi said. Therefore, only one of the six laterite mining leases was operational, and under this lease, 5,000 tonnes of laterite was permitted to be mined, he said. “In cases where the mining has exceeded the allowed quantity, those have been checked. But there is no bauxite in this region to be illegally mined,” he said, showing the GSI and IBM reports. TDP General Secretary and MLC Nara Lokesh had alleged that the leaders of YSRCP were involved in ‘large scale illegal bauxite mining’ in reserve forest areas in Visakhapatnam.