Former Secretary to GOI and former Commissioner for Tribal Welfare, AP Government, EAS Sarma, has taken strong exception to the way in which the AP Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC) has issued an E-Tender for ‘Working of Calcite Mining Lease’ of 8.725 hectares at Nimmalapadu village in Ananthagiri mandal in Visakhapatnam district, on ‘Raising-cum-sale contract basis’.
In a letter to the Chief Secretary, he stated that the APMDC has no right to unilaterally issue such a notification and it was in gross violation of the provisions embedded in the Panchayat (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) and the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act (FRA).
Speaking to The Hindu, he said that both the Acts are applicable to the Nimmalapadu village, as it lies within the notified Scheduled Area of Visakhapatnam district.
According to him, in the Scheduled Areas, as per the provisions of PESA, the question whether any mineral should be extracted and, if so, by whom, should be discussed first by the local adivasi Gram Sabha.
Such a prior discussion had not apparently taken place, he alleged. Even under the FRA, it is necessary that the individual and community rights to the land and the forest resources should be subject to prior discussion by the local adivasi Gram Sabha, which appears to have been bypassed, he added.
As such, the e-tender notice is patently illegal and liable to be set aside, he said.
The Samata judgement and the judgment in the case of bauxite mining by Vedanta in the scheduled area of Odisha, holds good in this case also, said Mr. Sarma.
It is learnt that a local tribal cooperative has approached the AP High Court to obtain a stay on the e-tender.
A few years ago, the same tribal cooperative had approached the government for lease for mining and was denied.