Huge Devastation Due to Illegal Quartzite Mining In K Kotapadu

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) demands that the environmental public hearing for two proposals to mine quartzite, scheduled to be held on August 18 at Dalivalasa and Gavarapalem villages in K Kotapadu mandal of Anakapalli district, be cancelled forthwith. All permissions accorded for mining quartzite to the two project proponents must be revoked.

A two-member HRF team visited the area on August 13 and spoke with local residents, most of them farmers and sheep-rearers, and looked at the effects of quartzite mining there since many years. For about 18 years, the hills abutting the villages of Dalivalasa, Marrivalasa, Pindrangi and Gavarapalem were ravaged because of mining for quartzite by the same project proponents who now want to mine for another 20 years. Shockingly, the mining was done without the mandatory environmental clearance, a fact admitted by the proponents. This was in plain violation of the Environment (Protection) Act. The matter went to court which penalized them a ridiculously paltry sum of Rs 10,000 each for this illegality.

Evidently, the effects of mining has devastated the environment and affected the livelihood and health of local residents. It was clear to us that mining had already compromised water security in the area. Several streams originating and flowing by the mine site were damaged because of the hills being destroyed. These streams flow down and feed numerous tanks that sustain agriculture in the area.

The region is home to a thriving farming and dairy community. Abutting the mine area is over 60 acres of land assigned decades ago to Dalits and other marginalised communities who raise cashew and mango. Because of the nature of quartzite mining, their agricultural fields have suffered over the years due to water flows being undermined, immense dust dispersing over a wide area and indiscriminate dumping of huge amounts of waste material. When it rains, debris from the mines would gush into their habitation, local residents told us. During the intermittent blasting, stones would also descend on their area, they said.

The hills where mining was done are also the lifeline for a large number of cattle and this has already been negatively impacted. If mining continues, there is a clear danger of cattle being substantially deprived of this precious grazing resource. According to local residents, there was also a decline in milk yield and dairy has been hit because of pollution from mining and land degradation. The Raiwada canal is a mere 440 metres from the Gavarapalem mine.

In fact, the mining is in plain violation of the Supreme Court order of December 12, 2003 in Civil Appeals No. 1907-1914 of 2000 which states that mining cannot be permitted within 2 km from any habitation. The AP Pollution Control Board (APPCB) guidelines state that distance between boundary of mining site and human habitation, educational institutions and religious places should not be less than 500 meters. The distance between the quartzite mine and Gollapeta, a hamlet of Gavarapalem with over 40 households, is a mere 260 metres! It is clear that that officials of mining, revenue and the Pollution Control Board are PCB departments are in league with the miners facilitating these illegalities.

The present proposals for two mining leases involve a combined production capacity of a staggering 382500 metric tonnes per annum (MPTA) spread across an area of 71 acres. There is no doubt that the cumulative impact of this mining would negatively impact agriculture, further diminish water resources and livelihoods and exact a toll on human health. Not only have the two project proponents carried out brazenly illegal mining for about 18 years, they now want to pillage the area for another two decades. This is totally unacceptable.

Despite being Constitutionally obligated to stop this criminality, authorities concerned have so far only been complicit. The draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) reports are in English running into over 374 pages each while the Telugu executive summary is truncated and a mere 12 pages each. And even these have not been made accessible to the local people. How can such a process be the basis for an informed participation in a public hearing? Moreover, a perusal of the EIA reports shows them containing glaring errors.

HRF demands that all attempts to mine quartzite in the area be immediately stopped and existing licenses annulled. A comprehensive investigation must be carried out to identify and prosecute all those who carried out these illegalities and those who did not enforce requisite regulations and facilitated these criminalities for about 18 years.

VS Krishna
HRF AP&TS Coordination Committee member

K Sudha
HRF State general secretary


Related Posts

Scroll to Top