Cancel White Granite Mining Lease To Virgin Rock

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) demands that the lease for mining white granite issued to Virgin Rock Pvt Ltd in survey No. 289 on Kannedhara Hills of Pulliputti Panchayat in Seethampeta mandal be immediately cancelled. The lease was obtained by fraudulent means and in mockery of the law.

A four-member HRF team visited Seethampeta and Kothuru mandals on Sunday and spoke with local elected representatives and adivasis in the area. The local people, in particular the Savara and Jatapu adivasis, are extremely agitated over the grant of lease. It was clear to the HRF team that the lease was granted in violation of norms and the law. These statutory infringements are deeply detrimental to the livelihood of the adivasis as well as the environment in the area.

The No Objection Certificate (NOC) issued by the revenue department is clearly irregular. Instead of obtaining the opinion and consent of the local people and respecting their legitimate rights on the Kannedhara Hill, the adivasis were deliberately bypassed and kept in the dark by the government.

Punitive measures should have already been taken against all those who willfully and deliberately indulged in irregularities and violated statutory norms. Why is the District Collector silent about these brazen violations? His inaction in the face of plain fraud by revenue personnel is unacceptable. Will we have to wait for the unfolding of a Sompeta-like situation and tragic loss of lives before compliance to laws is enforced and wrongs are redressed?

HRF is of the opinion that no mining must be allowed on Kannedhara Hill since it would irreparably damage the livelihood opportunities of adivasis in about 27 villages of five panchayats in Seethampeta and Kothuru mandals. Apart from raising cashew, red gram, mango, turmeric, ginger and pineapple on the Hill, the adivasis rely on it for a number of other purposes like collecting minor forest produce. This agriculture takes place on patta land given them in several phases since over two decades. They have also been eagerly waiting for the government to grant them patta for the podu cultivation they do on the hill slopes. 

Apart from being rich in various medicinal herbs and plants, Kannedhara feeds a total of 14 tanks in the area because of which nearly 2000 acres of paddy is raised. Importantly, the adivasis have a deep cultural and symbiotic relationship with the Hills. The traditional knowledge, religion and sustenance systems of the Savara and Jatapu communities spring from this hill. This must be respected and not disturbed.

Members of the HRF team: VS Krishna (HRF State general secretary), KV Jagannadha Rao (HRF State secretary), M Malleswara Rao (HRF district vice-president) and G Kondaiah (HRF district EC member)

Human Rights Forum
Andhra Pradesh


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