People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 30

July 29, 2012




CPI(M) Campaign on Tribal Issues

Evokes Tremendous Response


Ch Narasinga Rao


THE recent visit of CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat to the agency areas of Vishakapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh evoked tremendous response from the tribals.  The visit brought to light many ills of the bauxite mining and mining of other minerals that have endangered the plight of the tribals living in the agency areas. The urgent need for a comprehensive mining policy was underlined during her visit from July 9 to 11 in Visakhapatnam district.


Visiting a remote village, Jerrela, in G K Veedhi mandal, Karat saw and heard first hand the travails of tribals due to the bauxite mining for which permission was granted by AP government.  Despite heavy rain in Jerrela, hundreds of local tribals and those from as far as 10 to 20 km attended the meeting displaying their resolve to fight against bauxite mining.


At the public meeting in Jerrela, Brinda Karat criticised the role of the state and central governments on the issue of mining in tribal areas. She charged them of duplicity where on the one hand the union tribal welfare minister Kishore Chandra Deo, union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh and state tribal welfare minister Balaraju have been asserting that there is no question of allowing bauxite mining in Visakhapatnam scheduled area, but on the other hand, permission was given for construction of Bauxite Smelter and Refinery at Makavarapalem in the district. 


It is also surprising to note that the state tribal welfare minister, who belongs to the same constituency where bauxite mining was permitted, has not conducted the meeting of the Tribal Advisory Committee. Unless the people agitate, it would be difficult to stop the mining activity for which the government appears to be determined. It is a fact that the motive behind the recruitment of 196 tribal youth at Chintapalli by AP Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC), under the guise of training, is nothing but to motivate and convince the tribal people in favour of mining.


Karat also criticised the role of state governor who was acting as a mere postman.  When the union tribal affairs minister wrote a letter to cancel the mining licence issued to Anrak Aluminum Ltd.,   in collaboration with Ras Al Khaima through APMDC, though the governor has mandatory powers  to cancel the mining lease in the scheduled area, he has simply forwarded the letter as a postman to the state government. He has not fulfilled his responsibility to act in the interest of the tribal people. She demanded that the governor must take up the responsibility and cancel the mining lease immediately instead of acting like a mere postman.


Later, addressing a seminar in Visakhapatnam, organised by the AP Girijan Employees Welfare Association of Visakhaatnam district, Karat explained in detail about the new mining policy of the central government which is dangerous to both the tribal communities and the country at large. She explained that agitations are taking place throughout the world by the tribals and  deprived people of mining area along with the demands for jal, jamin and jungle (water, land and forest) which are the prime rights of the tribals. She explained in detail as to how the governments in Brazil, South Africa, UK etc are making laws in favour of  tribals.


The Mines and Mineral Development and Regulation Bill, 2011 proposes to further privatise the entire mining sector and offer mining leases to big private companies without taking into consideration the rights of the tribals and against the norms of the UN Convention. She said that land mining exploration up to 5000 square km would be given to big companies only to find out whether the minerals are available.  The tribals should get compensation equal to that of 100 days wages under Employment Guarantee Programme during the stage of exploration.  After exploration, if minerals are available, then a minimum of 100 square km should be given on lease.  She also pointed out that a District Mineral Foundation would be set up and each mining company should contribute equal amount as royalty to the central and state governments.  The DMF would comprise of all mining company representatives, district officials and only 3 tribal group representatives. This Bill has made a mockery of the laws of the UN Convention and our own laws to open the gates for FDI  in mining, she charged.


Because of the new mining policy, free and informal consultations with the tribal groups have been done away with leading to elimination of the rights of the tribals under Forest Rights Act, PISA etc. She wanted the obtaining of consent of concerned grama sabha must be made mandatory. She also emphasised the need for implementation of the Supreme Court order in Samata judgement case in 1996 to form tribal societies to entrust any mining activities.




On July 10, ITDA “Paderu siege” was organized by Girijan Sangham on the demands of Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) at Paderu, headquarters of Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) in Visakhapatnam district.  About 3500 PTGs, most of them very backward among the tribals and residing at the top of the hills, turned up and laid siege of ITDA, paralysing its activities.  A big rally preceded the public meeting in front of the gate of ITDA, Paderu.  The turn out in the programme was impressive since the PTGs have come from important primitive villages throughout the 11 mandals of Visakhaatnam district. The leaders of the PTGs explained their sad plight of living in their villages. They are suffering from lack of drinking water, illiteracy, power, roads, health and other basic amenities. It is amazing that 1100 PTG hamlets are not recognised as revenue villages and  records show that there are no villages to be covered! These villages have been covered under Forest Department only.  As all the 1100 villages are not recognised as revenue villages, they are deprived of the benefits accrued through special schemes of the central government with 100 per cent allocation of funds to PTG villages. 


A representation was made to the project officer about the plight of PTGs and a discussion ensued.  He assured to issue Antyodaya (AAY) cards to 6638 PTGs by this month end. It was also demanded not to register any case against the tribals who are tilling the land under podu cultivation (like the jhum cultivation in North Eastern states).  The project officer assured to withdraw cases against the PTGs filed by the forest department. The delegation also demanded payment of Rs 1 lakh each for a PTG family for construction of house and to set up anganwadi centres in the villages. The officer assured to set up anganwadi centres in 496 villages.  It was also demanded that the central schemes for PTGs must be implemented effectively along with the Tribal Sub-plan.  Visakhapatnam is one of the important PTG districts where about 1,31,750 population with 33,970 households are making their  living.


Brinda Karat also visited girls Ashram school at Talarsing and enquired about their conditions. She criticised the state government for not providing textbooks and notebooks to the students of the school even one month after the school reopened.


Later the CPI(M) leader addressed a Visakha district convention of disabled people at Chodavaram. She demanded payment of Rs 2000 per month as pension for all disabled. She called for strengthening the National Platform of Rights for Disabled (NPRD) unit in Visakhapatnam district.


Later, she also visited the Paderu area hospital where she could find that only four doctors are working against the required 10 doctors. No Gynaecologist, Paediatrician, Orthopaedic, General Medicine doctors were found. Even the doctors working here were all on contract basis, getting very meagre pay when compared to permanent doctors. She also visited Chinthapalli area hospital on her way to Jerrela and enquired as to why hundreds of tribals are dying every year due to malaria fever. She also visited Choudvada village and sowed the seeds of leafy vegetables to encourage its cultivation to avoid malnutrition.




On July 11, a maha dharna was organised in Visakhapatnam before the district collectorate by the CPI(M) and the CPI.  Addressing the agitators, Brinda Karat said that the union government has failed to provide food security to the people of the country. Protests will be conducted before the Parliament House from July 30 to August 3, 2012 to bring pressure on the government to pass the Food Security Bill with proper amendments in favour of the people.  She said that 8 crore tonnes of rice and wheat was in stock in the godowns throughout the country. But 66 lakh tonnes of rice and wheat is rotting in the open yards, giving way for its consumption by rats. She lambasted the government for deciding to export the surplus foodgrains at a lesser price than in India rather than distribute the grains to the poor and needy through PDS.


She said if the Planning Commission’s figures of those spending more than Rs 26 per day in rural areas and Rs 32 per day in urban areas to be treated as above poverty line, then over 56 per cent of existing BPL cards would have to be cancelled. She pointed out that the Left parties are demanding universal public distribution system in the country and the overflowing stocks of foodgrains should be properly distributed for the benefit of the people of this country. She stressed that no one should die due to hunger and starvation. The Swaminathan Committee’s recommendations should be implemented to protect the agriculture sector and the farmers of the country.


All the tribals belonging to PTGs are eligible for Antyodaya cards.  After 2009, under the pretext of verification of the cards, most of their Antyodaya cards have been transferred as white cards through which they will get a maximum of 20 kg of rice instead  of 35 kg under Antyodaya scheme.  Most of the PTGs are unable to get even rice, kerosene and sugar from the Girijan Cooperative Corporation (GCC) depots.  The government is issuing only half kg sugar and the net weight is even less than 400 gms. She demanded appointment of  district level officer for the welfare of the PTGs. Even for AIY cards, for the release of rice the GCC depot salesman is demanding the tribals to purchase soaps, cloths etc, which are not useful for tribals. AIY card holders are unable to get their rice and are suffering from hunger.


She also observed  that in Visakhapatnam agency area, no NREGA works are taking place in the mining area, especially in Jerrela, since last three years and the tribal people are suffering from hunger and misery. 


The CPI(M) and CPI jointly organised the meeting that was attended by large numbers of people.


Brinda Karat was accompanied by CPI(M) central committee member P Madhu, general secretary of AP Girijana Sangham and former Lok Sabha member, Dr M Babu Rao, and CPI(M) Vishakapatnam district secretary Ch Narasinga Rao.