The Andhra Pradesh government, through its Department of Mines and Geology, grants mining leases to private entities. Over the years, it has granted a number of leases in agency areas (hilly and forested areas dominated by tribals) in Vizianagaram district. As per District Survey Report 2018, more than 23 mining leases for granite quarrying are active. The region has not been classified as a Scheduled V area and, thus, the legal protection for tribal regions do not apply here. In 2016, the government issued a licence and other permissions to excavate high-quality granite from Bodikonda, which falls under the jurisdiction of Buduruvada panchayat of Parvathipuram mandal in the district. A corporate mining company got licence from the government to unearth granite from an area spanning 175 acres. Around 5,000 tribespeople live in Boddavalasa, Tekilova, Bittara tonki and some other villages in the district. Shifting cultivation and collecting forest produce like tamarind and firewood as well as mango cultivation are their main sources of income. The forest dwellers now fear losing their homes and livelihoods and the possibility of migrating to the plains in search of work. Protesting the mining projects allowed by the government, the tribespeople have raised concerns about pollution of water, loss of forest produce and the threat to the ecology of the Eastern Ghats as well as to their cultural and religious identities. For the last three years, indiscriminate mining has been taking place in the region, with the government failing to do basic checks before granting leases. Companies have suppressed facts and have got leases within the catchment area of the reservoir, says P.S. Ajay Kumar, national committee member of the All India Agriculture and Rural Workers' Association. In June 2019, after a sustained protest by tribespeople and activists, authorities finally responded. In a two-page report, Sasi Bhushana Rao, Superintending Engineer from the Irrigation Department, said that the mining companies failed to obtain the pre-requisite permission to begin mining activity in the region. "The Water Resources Department has not given any permission or No Objection Certificate for the above quarry leases. The quarry sites are in the Kalyanapulova Reservoir Catchment area. The distance from this water body to the above quarries varies from four to five kilometres," the report states.
Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:
Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Department of Mines and Geology, Government of Andhra Pradesh
Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:
Andhra Pradesh Rythu Coolie Sangham, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Maoist), Girijana Samkshema Sangham
Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:
M/s Pokarna Granites Limited, Vaishnav Granites
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