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    From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 9, Issue 41, Dated 13 Oct 2012

    Q&A V Kishore Chandra Deo, Minister for Tribal Affairs

    ‘Indiscriminate mining is the root cause of tribal unrest’

    IN AN unusual move, Union Minister for Tribal Affairs, V Kishore Chandra Deo, has asked the Andhra Pradesh government to cancel the leases of seven bauxite mines in Visakhapatnam. The minister contends that the mines are located in scheduled areas and threaten to destroy the habitat and livelihood of tribals there. On 28 September, four months after he brought the issue to the state Governor’s notice, Deo personally directed Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy to cancel the licences. He tells Prakhar Jain how mining in scheduled areas alienates tribals.

    V Kishore Chandra Deo

    V Kishore Chandra Deo

    Photo: Shailendra Pandey


    What made you act against bauxite mines?
    The bauxite mining area is in my constituency, which is a Schedule V area. Moreover, I have been pursuing this issue with the relevant ministers since I became an MP in the 14th Lok Sabha. The Schedule V of the constitution intended to provide protection to the Scheduled Tribes living in nine states. Giving mining leases, in violation of the protection granted by the Constitution and also against the land transfer regulations of the particular state, is totally illegal and unconstitutional. The argument whether mining is necessary, good or bad, is secondary.

    By that logic, the state, the Ministry of Mines and all those who have been involved in the allotment of mines would be guilty of being party to an illegal activity.
    As far as the Ministry of Mines is concerned, it issues clearances and permissions; it doesn’t look into whether the area concerned is a scheduled area or non-scheduled area, land transfer regulations, and all of this. I don’t know what their system is, whether they verify these facts before giving clearance, but the clearance does not undo the provisions of the Constitution. Land is a state subject, while mining is a concurrent subject. If any wrong has been committed, the state governments have to bear the blame. It is the state government’s job to put things in perspective. Ultimately, it is the state government that signs the land deal.

    But you also wrote to the Governor of Andhra Pradesh to cancel the bauxite mines.
    According to Article 244 of the Constitution, governors can invoke certain powers with respect to scheduled areas. Those powers are to revoke certain enactments of the Parliament – issues related to land or money lending that alienate tribals in scheduled areas. To do that, the Governor need not to take anybody’s permission. He can take the decision and President can ratify or reject it; but that is a different matter. Indiscriminate mining is the root cause of unrest in these areas including the extremist activities. When I did not get a reply from the Governor’s office for six months I told my ministry to find out what had happened, and I was some erroneous reasons were given. In those circumstances I chose to send this direction. Unfortunately, in past 60 years, there hasn’t been a single instance of a governor invoking his special powers.

    This decision is being seen as affecting just your constituency. What would happen to others?
    I’ll consolidate these basic principles and write to all the chief ministers. I’ll also ask my ministry to send an advisory to all the nine states with scheduled areas to ensure that such violations don’t take place. And as far as the governors are concerned, I’ll ask them to invoke these powers. If that doesn’t take place, I’ll act if such things are brought to my notice.

    Immediately after taking charge, you had alleged that POSCO’s mines were located in Tribal areas. Would action be taken against them?
    So far nothing has come to me in writing. I need to have proof that the project is in a scheduled area or that it violated either the land provisions of the state or the fifth schedule provision. If I have enough proof, I will first have to inquire into it through my own sources, through my ministry; and if I find that violations have taken place I’ll take action.

    Prakhar Jain is aCorrespondent with Tehelka.
    [email protected]

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    From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 9, Issue 41, Dated 13 Oct 2012



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