Wednesday, May 26, 2010

AP Bauxite Projects in Scheduled Area

--At Whose Cost & for Whose Benefit?


This is to bring to the kind notice of Dr.Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India and Smt. Sonia Gandhi , Chairperson UPA, certain facts regarding Bauxite Mining and Projects in AP State, which seem to be the root causes for the unrest in Scheduled Areas of Visakhapatnam district.


Bauxite Deposits in Visakhapatnam Scheduled Area


The identified bauxite mining area in AP State falls under Scheduled Area and Reserve Forests. The area where the bauxite hills-Araku Group & Jerrela Group of Chintapalle - are located, is not only notified as Scheduled Area but actually still predominantly in the hands of tribal people.


Since the last elections in 2004, it is the Congress Government which promoted Bauxite Mining & Projects, where the earlier TDP Government failed. The Congress party resistance to bauxite projects while in opposition changed within less than one year of coming to power, while the TDP in opposition has made amazing discoveries of all the ills, these projects will befall on the people.


Deprival of Tribal Land Rights


The strong protection of Tribal Land Rights in A.P was affirmed in the Supreme Court Samatha Judgment of 1997 and prevents any private company from owning or leasing land for mines or industry in the Scheduled Areas, where all bauxite deposits are located.


The Congress Government of AP dubiously circumvented the Tribal Land Rights by signing agreements with private companies, to undertake mining in Scheduled Areas via a fa├žade government company, A.P Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC), using what is referred to as "raising contractors"


It will be these contractors, privately owned firms, possibly even by Aluminum Project proponents, who will hire labourers, own & operate mining equipment, vehicles etc and mine & transport the ore to the Refinery located outside Scheduled Area. In short, they will do the actual mining & transport operations, but it will still be claimed that it is Govt. operated, since mining lease will be in the name of APMDC


AP Govt. Choice of Project Proponents


The first MOU was signed in 2005, between Jindal South West (JSW) of the Jindal Group, and the Government of A P. for supply of bauxite ore at a discounted rate The Jindal Group is known to have strong Congress links with one of the Jindal brothers, Naveen Jindal, being an elected MP for Congress in the Lok Sabha


The second MOU was signed in 2007 between RAK, an enterprise of the Government of Ras al-Khaima from the United Arab Emirates, and the AP Government. The precise link leading to MOU of RAK in AP, seems to be the investment made in RAK, by Penna Cements Ltd, owned by A.P. Congress Treasurer Sri.P.Pratap Reddy, who is reported to have interest in ANRAK Aluminum Project.


The way the partners are selected for bauxite projects indicate significant opportunities for personal profit by select politicians and bureaucrats who collaborate closely with the industrialists.


Sidelined Public Sector NALCO


The Public Sector NALCO (National Aluminum Corporation), the country's biggest bauxite miner, with its proven ability to mine bauxite and produce alumina and aluminum, is much better accomplished company, compared to the inexperienced partners chosen by the AP Government in JSW and ANRAK.


What is even more peculiar is that a lot of the problems stemming from APMDC acting as benami miner for the companies could have been avoided if an agreement was signed with NALCO, which is as much a Govt.Company as APMDC & could have operated the mines.

The unwillingness to sign deals with NALCO & instead choosing untested private companies becomes an interesting comment on where the priorities lie? To understand why this is the case, it would seem best to make investigations into the personal benefits that accrue from these projects?

Who benefits from the Bauxite Projects?

. If one wants to mine bauxite in Scheduled area, it will invariably mean displacing tribal communities, cutting down forests, disturbing important watersheds & environment, apart from depriving tribal land rights, At the same time, the right of Tribals to forest titles as per new Forest Rights Act get nullified. But how minerals should be utilized and how to solve the costs of mining in relation to tribal people, forests & environment, have hardly been discussed so far, outside exclusive elite policy forums heavily influenced by corporate interests.


The industrial projects are generally promoted as investments for inclusive development & increased public good .But closer scrutiny of the Mining projects in scheduled areas, reveal maximum benefits are going to particular Private Parties with political influence who manipulate Law in their favour, while the costs of land & resource loss and environmental costs are born by poor tribal people, who are denied the "Rule of Law",


Root Causes of Terrorism


The private monopoly on natural resources such as Land, Minerals, Forests, Water etc, invariably creates economic and social unrest, as it is bound to create a glaring disparity between the Rich and the Poor..


When the deprived lots are denied access to clean air, adequate safe drinking water and soil to meet their basic human needs, we see the rise of a sense of deprivation, hopelessness, intolerance and hatred. The desperate people can resort to desperate solutions.


The Intolerance also has its role. It can, in the name religion or ideology, fan the flames of hate and ignite a belief that terrorism is the only solution to a community's or nation's ills. As a result they may care little about themselves and the people they hurt.

It is the forces of poverty, environmental degradation and hatred that give birth to the intolerance that can lead to fundamentalism and terrorist acts. While fighting against Terrorism, we must also expose the forces that create Poverty & Wide Disparity, Hatred and Environmental Degradation that can lead to an unstable world.

Conclusion

The likely adverse impacts of Bauxite mining & projects on Peoples' Livelihoods, Eastern Ghats, Water Sources, Forests & Environment have generated very wide attention in coastal AP. But the agencies concerned both at Central & State levels, ignored their impact on important water-sheds of Sileru, Tandava Nadi & Goshtani / Sarada and their implications on Upper & Lower Sileru, Tandava, Raivada, Tatipudi, Megadri Gadda etc Reservoirs.


As the mining part of the bauxite projects are in Scheduled areas, the poor people living off the land are pushed to the side. The local people can not be expected to benefit from politically motivated mining projects, which are bulldozed for individual benefits.


This has created unrest in the minds of Tribal Communities of the Scheduled areas of Visakhapatnam, which may trigger terrorist activities in the area. As part of the fight against Terrorism in Visakha scheduled areas, request that clearances granted to JSW and ANRAK projects be reviewed and canceled before it is too late.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Visakhapatnam Air Pollution


The NEERI and CPCB recommended in 1990s that no new industrial activities and expansion of the existing activities should be permitted in the Bowl Area of Visakhapatnam, but unfortunately it has been ignored,resulting in the present sad state of environmental disaster in the Bowl Area.

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study done by Andhra University for Visakhapatnam Port Trust ( VPT) in 1997 indicates high concentrations of heavy metals (Copper, Lead, Iron, Manganese, Cadmium, Nickel, Cobalt, Zinc) and Polyaromatic hydrocarbons in the Port area

These metals are known to be highly toxic and long-term exposure to them, even at low concentration levels, may cause serious health effects in humans. Of these heavy metals,Cadmium and Nickel are carcinogens (cancer causing). The EIA study findings are that the heavy metals could not be attributed to the local soils and that "their concentration distribution obviously shows the industrial belt and VPT area as the localized sources.

Poly aromatic hydrocarbons ( PAHs) were monitored at Jagadamba junction, Central bus stand,Convent junction, NAD Kotta road, Scindia junction, Gajuwaka, Old Post Office and MVP Colony.The average concentrations and percent carcinogenic fraction of the PAHs concentrations consisting of benzo (a) pyrene, benzo (e) pyrene and chrysene were reported by the EIA


The EIA report concludes that "Overall the carcinogenic PAH compounds in Visakhapatnam air warrants serious attention and necessitates to plan control measures."


Suggest that services of Andhra University be requested to take up Rapid EIA Study for evaluating and arriving at immediate remedial measures. The following issues may please be considered:


a) Banning of unloading of dirty cargo like Coal and handling of Bulk Cargo of metal ores by VPT within a give time frame

b) Immediate stoppage of handling and storage of bulk Sulfur in powder farm and other hazardous chemicals like Ammonium Nitrate by VPT

c) Strict surveillance on existing polluting industries and activities in the bowl area

d) Switching over all public transport and goods transport vehicles to CNG within a short time frame

Import of Ammonium Nitrate


This has reference to the News Item reported on 21 st May, 2010, regarding Maoists high jacking truck carrying 16.5 tons of Ammonium Nitrate in Bastar region of Chhattisgarh. The truck is reported to be on its way to Raipur from Visakhapatnam, without any security, when it is high jacked.

Every year large quantities of Ammonium Nitrate are being imported at Visakhapatnam,without following the stipulated norms in its storage and transportation. One M/S Sravan Shipping Services Pvt. Ltd is understood to be handling Ammonium Nitrate at Visakhapatnam .

In this connection Letter dated 6-9-2007 addressed to the Secretary, Home Department, Govt of AP and subsequent communication to Home Ministry,Govt. of India, refer..

Would appreciate necessary action, at least now, to regulate and control import, storage , transport and end use of Ammonium Nitrate with caution.

Conversion of Land Use  and  Encroachment of Water Bodies, Hyderabad  

 

          This is to bring to the kind notice of Metropolitan Commissioner, HMDA and  District Collector, Ranga Reddy District, regarding indiscriminate change of land use of water bodies and their encroachment in and around Hyderabad, having serious adverse impacts on availability of surface and ground water, micro-climatic conditions and quality of life in general, in the years to come. 

 

        HUDA issued a "landmark" Notification on 4th May 2000 "Save Lakes for Better Hyderabad" identifying 169 lakes/tanks with more than 10 ha area. The Clause 3 of this notification states that "the entire areas falling within the Full Tank Level [FTL] of the lakes as per the Survey of India Maps, must be kept free from any type of constructions irrespective of ownership or any land use or Master/Zonal Development Plan that may have been previously notified.  In addition, a buffer belt of 30 meters within on all sides of each lake must be kept free from any type of construction in the interest of prevention of pollution to the lake waters and to allow free flow of water to the lakes". 

 

          The Andhra Pradesh Water, Land and Trees Act, 2002 also provides for protection of water bodies by preventing the conversion of their intended land use.

                                                  

Reported Encroachments

      But unfortunately, the change of land use of water bodies and / or their encroachments continue to take place with or without the knowledge of the concerned authorities. The particulars of some of the water bodies reported to have been shrunk / encroached, in erstwhile non MCH Area of HUDA, are furnished below:

No.  Name of Lake                       Area         S.No of               Locality

                                                     In Hrs     Notified 169 

 

1. Mir Alam Tank                          335.07           4                       -

2.Fox Sagar                                 199.71            5                  Jeedimetla

3. Saroornagar Tank                     49.50          19                  Saidabad

4. Boin Cheruvu                            40.95          24                  Hasmatpet

5. Sunnam Cheruvu                      36.23          30                  Nadergul

6. Durgam Cheruvu                       25.23          46                  Madhapur

7. Phirozguda Cheruvu                 17.07           87.                Uppal

8. Gopi Cheruvu                           15.00         107                  Lingampally    

9. SahebenagarKalan Cheruvu    12.91         123                 L.B Nagar

10. Jeedimetla Kunta                    10.63        151                       -

 

Notified Conversions

 

       As per the information received, under RTI, from HUDA, vide their letter dated 05-09-2007, the particulars of change of land use of some water bodies/greenbelts/parks to other uses, permitted by the State Government from 2003 to 2007 are furnished below:

 

        Village                          Area       Sy.No   Conversion           G.O.Ms.No

                                                                               To                   and Date

 

1) Gundla Pochamapalli Ac 35.05(P)    79     Residential      39.MA 19-2-2004 

 

2) Gundla Pochamapalli Ac 34.17(P)   394    Residential      366.MA   9-9-2004

 

3) Medchal                      Ac 95.35(P)    833    Residential     382.MA 20-9-2004

 

4) Pet Basheerabad        Ac   3.01       79&80 Residential     389.MA    9-5-2005

    Qutubullapur (M)

 

5) Ramachandrapuram Ac 16.72        267     Residential      717.MA 25-7-2005

 

6) Ramachandrapuram Ac 12.09        900     Residential       847.MA 29.9.2005

  

7) Chandanagar              Ac.2.34 (P)          304      Residential 150.MA 9-3-07

  Serilingampally (M)   

                                                     

8) Kapra (V) Keesara (M)   12040 Sq.Mtrs 128/2    Residential    81.MA 3-3-06   

 

9) Madinaguda                   2219 Sq.Mtrs (P) 198    Residential 280.MA 26-5-06

   Serilingampally (M)

 

10. Dhabirpur                     Ac 7-10 (P)          722     Industrial     233.MA 4-5-06

      Medchal (M)

 

 

            The above information needs to be verified and necessary action be initiated, by authorities concerned, to restore and protect the Water Bodies and Greenbelts/Parks/Playgrounds from land use conversion and encroachments.

 

 

Friday, May 21, 2010

              : Restoration and Protection of Yerrakunta Lake in Tarnaka , Hyderabad

 

              At the outset, Metropolitan Commissioner HMDA and Hyderabad District Collector and their staff deserve to be complimented  for initiating measures for restoration & protection of Yerrakunta Lake in Tarnaka of Maredpally Mandal, Hyderabad district,  which was being represented since 1996.

 

Encroachment with Forged and Fabricated Documents

 

            It may be of interest to note that the then District Collector of Hyderabad in his DO Letter No.F3/714/98 of 25-5-1999 addressed to Mr.S.R.Sukumara IPS, then Commissioner of Police, clearly pointed out that one Mr.P.Seshu Babu and his associates have been developing Ac 20.24 guntas land, which is a water body, as house plots based on forged and fabricated documents and they have also been threatening the poor people, who are eking out their livelihood by washing clothes in the area.

 

          It was also stated that all the illegal activities of Mr. P.Seshu Babu and his associates amount to land grabbing and they are liable for criminal prosecution. As they have become threat to the maintenance of peace and public order in the area, necessary action should be initiated for protecting Yerrakunta Lake as well as maintaining the peace and public order.

 

          Regrettably, in spite of numerous representations to various authorities and intervention of the then Principal Secretary to Chief Minister (Present Chief Secretary), nothing has happened till to day to evict the land grabbers and save the lake. The excuse being given is that there are court stay orders and no action could be taken

 

 Ray of Hope

 

      The Malakam Cheruvu on old Bombay road in R.R District is another classic example of very influential land grabber encroaching the lake. The administration seems to be cooperating, by putting the bund separating the encroached area from the rest of the lake and permitting the change of land use in the encroached area. Hope necessary steps will be initiated to restore and protect this water body also.


 

Dr.Y.S.Rajasekhar Reddy Smruthi Vanam in Velugodu Reserve Forest

 

Appreciate sincere efforts of Sri Jairam Ramesh, Hon'ble Minister of State of Environment & Forests , Govt.of India, to revive Nagarjunasagar- Srisailam (N-S) Tiger Sanctuary,

         a)    by proposed relocation of over 1000 families, predominantly Tribals, residing in the N-S Tiger Reserve,

b)     by recruiting 4,000 youth hailing from the Chenchu Tribes and entrusting them with the task of monitoring the Tiger-population, as "Tiger-Watchers and Protectors" in the Reserve 

c)    by identifying lands where fodder could be grown or areas which could be converted into Grazing Grounds, to prevent the cattle from entering the reserve for grazing, one of the biggest threats to the ecology  

d)    by trying to regulate the traffic flows to the 9 temples located in the sanctuary area, through the forest area etc

 

Creation of "Critical Wildlife Habitat"/"Core Area" to N-S Tiger Reserve 

 

    The State Government of Andhra Pradesh vide its G.O.Ms.No. 50 dated 18-03-2010, declared that the entire "Gundla Brahmeswara Wildlife Sanctuary" (GBWS) area to an extent of 1194 Sq Kms (specified in the schedule to the G.O.) to be a extended Core Area / Critical Wildlife Habitat to Nagarjunasagar –Srisailam (N-S) Tiger Reserve, for the purpose of Tiger Conservation, which shall be called as Extended Core/Inviolate Area / Space to N-S Tiger Reserve.

 

Dr.Y.S.Rajasekhar Reddy Smruthi Vanam in Velugodu Reserve Forest

        

   The likely adverse impacts of the proposal for development of "DR. Y.S.R.Reddy Smruthi Vanam" in an area of 1424.14 Ha,(Compartment Nos. 656,657, 694 and 697), in Velugodu Reserve Forest- Gundla Brahmeswara (GBM) Wildlife Sanctuary- in Atmakuru Wildlife Management (WLM) Division (Compartment No.731) in Project Tiger Circle, Srisailam on the Tiger Habitat,  have already been high lighted 

 

 Appeal

 

          The development activity of the proposed "Dr.Y.S.R.Reddy Smruthi Vanam"  at the site, associated approach roads /paths,  infrastructure facilities, vehicular traffic, large number of visiting pilgrims to "Smruthi Vanam" and Helicopter Crash-Site  etc, right in the protected "Critical Tiber Habitat", is bound to disturb the ecological balance and  endanger the home for thousands of endangered animals, birds, rare medicinal and endemic plants, in the ecologically fragile area,  apart from violating the provision of "No Activity"    

 

      Express serious concern against the proposal of the State Government to develop "Dr. Y.S.R Reddy Smruthi Vanam" right in the "Critical Tiger Habitat", a No Activity Zone, in violation of Law, Procedures and Prevailing Supreme Court Directives, while Govt. of India is initiating stringent measures to restrict and regulate various activities, so as to Revive., Protect and Preserve one of the largest Tiger Sanctuary in the country.