Nallamala tribals oppose mining operations by MNCs

By: SK Ahmed Pasha

Mahbubnagar: Several hundreds of Girijan families residing in remote villages in Nallamala forest areas under Achampet and Kollapur Assembly constituencies of Mahbubnagar district strongly oppose any mining operation by any Multi-National Company (MNC) in the area.
Covered with huge and wide range of mountains, thick forests, waterfalls, meandering streams, secluded and ancient temples, wild animals, innumerable varieties of birds and various other natural factors, Nallamala forest area is an invaluable asset to Andhra Pradesh State. It is very rich with forest products and hence tribal people have been living in the region since ages.

Nallamala forests spread in Mahbubnagar, Kurnool, Prakasam, Guntur and Nalgonda districts with an area of about 3,568 sq. kms. Of this extension, the forests spread in about 1,000 sq.kms in the two Assembly segments – Achampet and Kollapur – in Mahbubnagar district.

By referring to ancient books and making a number of studies, several Multi-National Companies noted that Nallamala forest area is filled with abundant deposits of diamonds, gold, uranium and other valuable minerals.

After making many surveys in this regard, the companies approached Government agencies for permission for mining in the area.In the process, an internationally acclaimed company Debeers sought for permission for mining of diamonds in the area in the year 2010.

To start their operations, the company wanted to vacate Girijans settled in thandas at the low level of mountains to plains. They also allegedly offered Rs 10 lakhs for each of the tribal family to vacate their habitations.

However, scores of Girijans refused to vacate their settlements. They resorted to agitations. Political parties, people’s organizations and voluntary organizations extended their support to the Girijans.

Telangana Jagruti Samiti president Kalwakuntla Kavitha, Maoist leader Sambasivudu, revolutionary singer Gaddar, late BJP leader Jhansi, BJP leader Bandaru Dattatreya, CPI state secretary Narayana and several others visited the villages and expressed their solidarity with Girijans. With this, the Debeers company went back.

Subsequently, another Multi-National Company wanted to take up mining for the extraction of uranium in the district. The company, a few months ago, tried to organise a public opinion meeting at Padara village in Amrabad mandal. As the locals vehemently opposed the move to mining, the company also gave up its attempts.

According to a survey, about a decade ago, there were 50,000 Chenchus in the forest area. However, their population has dwindled to 40,000 now, says a source. Some years ago, the Government shifted about 300 Girijans from Kollapur area to Molachintalapalli and ignored about their welfare or facilities. Out of them, 70 died due to various reasons within six months. With this, the officials also stopped shifting tribals from their habitations.

Rajiv Gandhi Tiger Zone was proposed by the Centre in the Nallamala forest area. Construction of any permanent structure is prohibited in the Reserve Forest area. The forest officials are not allowing construction of roads, erection of electric poles for power supply, or housing colonies to tribals in the region.

Under the circumstances, allowing MNCs or any other company in the forest area for mining operations is opposed tooth and nail by the Girijans in the locality. In the recent weeks, there are reports that some companies were trying again to take up mining operations in the region. This has been opposed by the Girijans in the district. [The Hans India]

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