Union Minister of Tribal Affairs Kishore Chandra Deo is firm on bringing down the curtains on the bauxite controversy in the agency (tribal) area of Visakhapatnam district, which he represents, by getting the mining leases cancelled.
At a meeting convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on February 4 on the issue, he made his stand clear and wanted quick action by the Union Mining Minister Dinsha J. Patel.
Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, Dinsha J Patel, Minister of Environment and Forests Jayanti Natarajan and Law Minister Ashwin Kumar also participated in the meeting, it is learnt.
The Union Mines Ministry has already given its permission to the AP Government, while the Ministry of Environment and Forests is in the process of clearing the proposal. Sources said that the Home Minister and Finance Minister were called for the meeting as the Tribal Affairs Minister had hinted to the Prime Minister that if mining was allowed it would alienate the tribals in the region, which may result in a major law and order problem.
The Finance Minister explained how the Centre was pumping in funds for development of tribal areas to combat the Maoist influence in the region, sources added.
Deo took a firm stand against mining and justified his intervention to protect the rights of the tribals enshrined in the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution, sources said.
On February 10, the Tribal Affairs Minister wrote a letter to the Minister of Mines to direct his ministry to issue a communication revoking permission to the State Government to mine bauxite in the Scheduled areas.
In the letter, he pointed out that the agreement/MoU entered into by the State Government did not flow out of an enactment of the State Legislature or Parliament and could be cancelled. The agreement was in violation of the land transfer regulations of the State Government which prohibits non-tribals from purchasing or taking on lease land in the Scheduled Areas.