Press Release 19-10-2016

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) strongly condemns the manner in which an environmental public hearing is being sought to be held tomorrow (i.e 20-10-2016) for the proposed ACC Ltd’s limestone mining, cement plant and captive power plant at Gollapalli village in Mylavaram mandal of Kadapa district. The Andhra Pradesh government has virtually unleashed a police raj in the area and is trying to bulldoze the public hearing by whatever means.
HRF’s State executive committee member and Kadapa district convener K Jayasree has been held under house arrest with constables deployed at her residence in Proddatur. While junior level police officers are saying they had “instructions from above” to do this, senior officials are feigning ignorance. Meanwhile, hundreds of police personnel have descended upon Gollapalli and villages like Vaddirala, Bestavermula and G Uppalapadu. Evidently, the government’s intention is to prevent both HRF functionaries as well as local people from participating in the public hearing slated for Thursday. This is shameful and highly objectionable. The police are busy creating an atmosphere of fear among people who have misgivings about the desirability of the project. It may be recalled that local people have been vehemently opposing the proposed project and had even disallowed the public hearing from being held on an earlier occasion on September 9. This was because statutory norms were not followed and the local people had no proper access to information concerning the proposed project like the environmental impact assessment report.
Right now, the whole area in and around Gollapalli is teeming with police. A public hearing is part of an environmental process where people are given a chance to render suggestions, proffer opinion and raise objections about the concerned project. It must be held in a free, fair and transparent manner and not by intimidating people. This defeats the very purpose of public consultation and reduces the hearing to a meaningless exercise and a mere formality. Clearly, the public hearing process has been vitiated in this case and cannot be construed as a genuine public consultation as is mandated by law.
To now try to bulldoze a public hearing in this manner by using the police is highly objectionable. We demand that the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) intervene and stop this farce.

VS Krishna S Jeevan Kumar
(HRF general secretary, TS&AP) (HRF president, TS&AP)