Revoke Lease For Laterite Mining In Sarugudu Panchayat: HRF

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) strongly urges the State government to immediately revoke the lease granted to J Lakshmana Rao for mining of laterite in an extent of 121 hectares (298.98 acres) near Bhamidika village of Sarugudu panchayat, Nathavaram mandal in the Agency region of Visakhapatnam district. We demand that the public hearing for the proposed project slated for November 17 at Erakannapalem village be cancelled forthwith. Not doing so would amount to a mockery of the environmental clearance regime.

A four-member HRF team visited six villages in Sarugudu panchayat on Wednesday and spoke with local residents who are all Adivasis belonging mostly to the bagata and konda dora communities. The region falls in the Vth Schedule and the area in and around the mine lease zone is reserve forest. The proposed project and the notification of the public hearing are in brazen violation of statutory rights meant for protection of Adivasis and the Vth Schedule region.

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report put out by the project proponent report is a sham. Assessments trotted out in the EIA report are highly dubious, riddled with a number of inconsistencies and misrepresentations. For instance, it is stated in the EIA report that the proposed project site is devoid of any natural vegetation. This is a brazen lie. The whole area stretching from Sundarakota village in the north-east through Bhamidika village and Siripuram to the south and Lodaddi village to the west in neighbouring East Godavari district is abundantly green with heavy natural forest. Besides, there are many perennial streams in the area. The claim that the proposed project’s impact on ecology will be insignificant is absolutely untenable.

. Moreover, the proposed mining violates a number of Constitutional safeguards meant for protection and strengthening of forest ecology and Adivasi livelihood. These include the Forest Conservation Act, Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act, the Supreme Court’s Samatha Judgement and the Forest Rights Act, 2006. These facts have been brought to the notice of concerned authorities but they have so far failed to act upon them.

Holding a public hearing in the face of such brazen statutory violations and glaring anomalies will amount to a meaningless exercise. The proposed project entails unacceptable environmental and human livelihood costs in a highly sensitive eco-system.

Villages visited by the HRF team: Sundarakota, Thorada, Bhamidika, Patha Siripuram, Erakannapalem and Sarugudu.

VS Krishna
HRF State general secretary


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