Adivasis Want China Clay Mining Lease Cancelled, Manhandle MLA, MPP

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) calls upon the State government to respect the wishes of the Adivasis in the Kandrum panchayat of Dumbriguda mandal and to immediately cancel the lease granted to the Mutchika Bhoodevi firm for mining china clay in an extent of 15.6 hectares in survey no. 122 of Sarayi revenue village in Dumbriguda mandal in the Agency region of Visakhapatnam district. Tuesday’s incidents make amply clear that the opposition by Adivasis to the mining lease is total.

By all accounts Mutchika Bhoodevi is a bogus firm fronting for vested interests who are trying to circumvent various protective legislation meant for the Adivasis like Regulation 1 of 70, the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas)  (PESA) Act and various provisions of the 5th Schedule. They have made a mockery of these and several other statutory norms. AP has been witness to such benami firms being floated to loot mineral wealth in the 5th Schedule areas. Illegal mining of barytes and iron-ore in Garla and Bayyaram mandals of Khammam district are an example. These illegalities are taking place due to outright collusion between such firms and corrupt government functionaries.

We knew the public hearing for the mining of china clay was scheduled to be held at Sarayi in Dumbriguda mandal on Tuesday was cancelled and the Collector had asked the Paderu RDO Prasada Rao to enquire and submit a report to him about opposition to the mining from Adivasis.

A two-member HRF team decided to visit the area anyhow and speak with the local people and elicit their views on the matter. We arrived at the panchayat headquarters Kandrum where the protesting Adivasis had set up road blocks. We walked some distance to a large gathering of Adivasis from the villages of Jankarguda, Sarayi, Kandrum, Jodiguda and Jankaravalasa. Speakers from different organisations and political parties opposing the proposed mining were addressing the gathering.

Soon after, the Araku MLA Siveri Soma came to the place. He was accompanied by, among others, the Dumbriguda MPP Korra Dhanna Rao. As soon as the Adivasis saw them they grew agitated. They began to argue with the MLA and even pushed him a bit. Many of them vented their ire at Rao. This was because they perceived him as doing the benami company’s bidding and was trying to bribe the local Adivasis to accept the mining. On their part, the Adivasis have been asking him over the past several months not to function like a broker for the Bhoodevi firm but to join them in opposing it.

The Adivasis hurled abuses at the MPP and manhandled him. He began to walk away from the place but a large number of Adivasis, most of them women, went after him. They hurled dung and mud at him several times and tore his shirt. When he picked up pace he was chased and beaten, particularly by the women. This happened for a distance of about 5 furlongs. Some of his associates were also chased and hit by the women.

The Adivasis want not just the public hearing cancelled but the mining lease scrapped.

VS Krishna
HRF State general secretary


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