Jairam Ramesh moots 20-year moratorium on mining in tribal areas

Hyderabad, March 17 (IANS) Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh Sunday mooted 20-year moratorium on mining in tribal areas of Andhra Pradesh.

Addressing a public meeting at G. K. Veedhi, a an interior tribal area in Visakhapatnam district, he suggested to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy to impose the ban on mining as it gives rise to Maoist activity.

"Wherever we have mining we have Maoists. We have to have to different approach to mining," he said at the meeting which was also addressed by the chief minister and union Tribal Welfare Minister V. Kishore Chnadra Deo.

The public meeting was organized to launch 'Rajiv Bala Sanjeevani', a scheme to provide medical care to the tribal children.

"Nowhere has mining benefited tribals in the country. Only few outsiders became rich while local remained poor," said Ramesh

G. K. Veedhi, which has considerable Maoist presence, has been witnessing public resistance to proposed bauxite mining for last few years.

Reiterating his opposition to bauxite mining, Deo said a decision to not allow the mining in tribal area was taken at a meeting in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

He called for cancelling the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) the state government signed with private companies. Deo had already written to both the chief minister and the governor, urging them to cancel the MoUs.

The chief minister, however, did not directly respond to the suggestions made by the two central ministers. He merely said the government would do nothing illegal.

State-owned Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation proposes to take up bauxite mining in tribal areas of the district under the MoUs signed with Anrak Alumina and Jindal companies.

Chintapalli, G. K. Veedhi and Araku 'mandals' of the district have huge bauxite reserves. Under the MoUs, the ore from Jerrela deposits would be supplied to Anrak Alumina nd the ore from Araku deposits to Jindal company.

Maoists, various people's organizations and environmentalists have been supporting the ongoing movement by tribals against bauxite mining. They allege that the project would displace the tribals, affect their livelihood and harm the environment.