Minister for moratorium on mining in Andhra

HYDERABAD - Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has called for a 20-year moratorium on mining projects that affect the livelihood sources of tribal communities in Andhra Pradesh, besides arguing that mining in tribal areas could lead to increased Maoist activity.

By P.s. Jayaram

Published: Tue 19 Mar 2013, 10:26 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 4:10 PM

Addressing a public meeting at G.K. Veedhi, a remote tribal hamlet in the north coastal Andhra district of Visakhapatnam, the minister said: “Nowhere in the country has mining benefited the tribals. Only a few outsiders became rich while the locals remained poor.”

Urging Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, who was also present on the occasion, to impose ban on mining in the region as it might prove counter-productive, Ramesh said: “Wherever we have mining, we have Maoists. We need a different approach to the issue of mining.” The meeting was also attended by the Union Tribal Welfare Minister V. Kishore Chnadra Deo, a local leader who is also opposed to the proposed bauxite mining in the region.

The public meeting was organised to launch ‘Rajiv Bala Sanjeevani’, a scheme to provide medical care to the tribal children. Interestingly, the official function was organised in the area which has been witnessing public resistance to the mining project.

The environmental activism of Jairam Ramesh in opposing the prestigious bauxite mining project has been a cause of worry for the Congress government in the state for some time now. Though the government is keen on going ahead with mining the bauxite reserves, the union minister had made it clear that he would continue to oppose it in the interests of safeguarding the rights of local tribals.

Bauxite mining is a major issue in the region with local tribals, civil rights activists, environmental groups and the opposition parties opposing the project. They argue that it would not only lead to environmental degradation but also displace thousands of tribal families.

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