The Supreme Court of Andhra Pradesh has suspended the electronic tender for three weeks to process calcite mine leases on 8,725 hectares in the village of Nimmalapadu, Ananthagiri Mandal, Visakhapatnam District Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC).
The High Court issued the order after hearing a written petition from Sri Abhaya Girijana from the Mutual Supported Employment Co-op on Saturday.
The cooperative has been trying to get the mining lease for two decades. However, it was rejected each time by the APMDC. Previously, the Birla Group had signed the lease for the mines and it was handed over to APMDC in 1995 following a Supreme Court decision.
Previously, the cooperative had also proposed a tripartite agreement with the state government and a private party, but it was rejected, said Ravi Rebbapragada, executive director of Samata.
Mr. Ravi had played a key role in obtaining the Samata Supreme Court ruling, which protects tribal rights and serves as a benchmark for all tribal issues, along with the Panchayat Extension of the Planned Areas Act (PESA) and Planned Tribes and Act other traditional forest dwellers (recognition of forest rights) (FRA).
“No Grama Sabha Held”
Ravi said the cooperative’s requests were ignored, and the APMDC did not bother to hold a Grama Sabha with the tribes of the region before the electronic tender was published in violation of the PESA, FRA, and Samata and Niyamgiri judgments of the Supreme Court .
In addition, the cooperative denied that any of the clauses in the electronic listing stated that the lease would be given to a tribal person rather than a tribal cooperative. “This provision will make the Benami trade easier because no tribal person has the mining equipment listed in the contract clauses,” he said.
Members of the cooperative said that clauses should be changed and cooperatives to bid and that Grama Sabha should be held according to the laws set out in the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution. The area designated for mining is rich in minerals and the calcite is pure and free of silica. The tribal people must be able to use the resources, Ravi said.