Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Agitation against mining of bauxite loses momentum in agency

VISAKHAPATNAM: Political parties, people’s organisations and environmentalists have opposed the Government’s move to exploit the hundreds of millions of tonnes of bauxite deposits spread over the agency area of Visakhapatnam and East Godavari districts and setting up of alumina refineries in Makavarapalem mandal (Visakhapatnam) and S. Kota mandal (Vizianagaram), to process the ore.

All of them, including the banned CPI (Maoist), reminded the Government of the ill-effects of bauxite mining and the alumina refineries but about two years after the agitation grabbed the headlines, the struggle seems to have subsided, much to the chagrin of the Girijans who will be the worst hit and others, including farmers.

Bauxite mining brings great prosperity to people, particularly the Girijans, claims the Government but the fact is that mining will destroy the environment and the livelihood of Girijans. Mining will destroy the thick forests having some rare flora and fauna and water sources that feed the plain areas while the refineries destroy the people’s health and wealth. Economy of the investor will boom but not that of the farmer or a Girijan.

This has been the experience in Orissa. Meanwhile, the political parties are engaged in a passive protest, though they claim that the agitation is alive.

Even the CPI (Maoist) has been silent on the issue for the last many months. According to reports, the banned outfit has been keeping a low profile in the agency area for the past four months. Some compare the development with the past experience of the naxalite outfit strongly opposing the Essar Gujarat’s pipeline project in the initial stages and finally allowing the company to continue with its project.

The State Government is going about its job discreetly. It dared not conduct land survey in the agency and fulfilled the obligation with a helicopter survey and is going with full vigour in acquiring lands from farmers.

In the past the farmers declared that they would not part with their lands but now they are forced to haggle for a good price.

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