Revoke Quartzite Mining Lease On Ravivalasa Metta

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) demands that the mining lease for quartzite on Ravivalasa hillock (Ravivalasa metta) be immediately revoked since any mining on the hill will devastate an ecologically sensitive area and will grossly undermine the livelihood of local communities consisting of about 1500 families. Not revoking the mining license would amount to a 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. In this case, the distance from the hillock to houses in the village is not more than a mere 500 meters.

A HRF team on Tuesday visited Ravivalasa in Garugubilli mandal of Vizianagaram district. We spoke with the local residents who are in one voice opposed to the mining. We trekked atop the hillock and also examined the surrounding area. We were shocked at the brazenness of the clearances given for mining in an extent of 11.13 hectares in survey no 471 to one A Gangadhara Naidu. This was done in plain violation of norms and had virtually no consent of the local people. Residents allege that a no objection certificate (NOC) was obtained in the past through fraudulent means and this fact was also pointed out recently by the MRO (Garugubilli tahsildar letter no 399/2016 dated 16-12-2016) and Parvathipuram RDO (letter no 487/2016/C/ dated 23-6-2017) who had also brought it to the notice of the Collector. Equipment was brought in recently and some mining was done before local residents objected and put a stop to it.

Ravivalasa is home to a vibrant farming community whose lands are served by the Thotapalli project waters. The locals proudly say they have been getting water from the Nagavalli river through Thotapalli regulator since over a century! These agricultural fields are in close proximity to the hillock and the mining footprint would adversely affect crops.

Abutting the hillock is a tank that is used by members of about 60 rajaka families for washing clothes which they dry over a wide area at the foot of the hill. Mining would mean they can no longer continue this and according to them, they would have no option but to migrate out of the village. Another tank used by cattle lies about 150 metres from the hillock. There are two other tanks in the village well within one km from the hillock, one of which (Guntreddivaani Cheruvu) is used daily to fetch water for drinking and cooking. All these precious water bodies are in danger of being depleted and badly polluted in the event of mining.

The hillock is also the lifeline for thousands of cattle from not only Ravivalasa but also several villages in the area. This precious grazing land on the ‘metta’ will be destroyed if mining is allowed. Also, dalits of the village have been assigned land in an extent of 11 acres on the hillock. According to the residents, the hill contains medicinal plants which are in danger of being lost. What is more, the local people revere this hillock, consider it holy and celebrate ‘Metta Kanuma’ every Sankranti on it.

We urge the Collector to intervene and see that this illegal mining lease is immediately cancelled.

VS Krishna 
(HRF Coordination Committee member
TS & AP)

KV Jagannadha Rao
(HRF AP State vice-president)


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