Governors to use powers to cancel mining licences

NEW DELHI: With spurt in Naxal attacks, the Centre has decided to ask governors to use special powers in tribal-dominated areas and consider cancelling mining leases given to state agencies and corporates.

The first such recommendation is likely to be to Andhra Pradesh governor ESL Narsimhan in Vishakhapatnam district, bordering Odisha’s Naxal-infested Koraput district.

Speaking to ET , tribal affairs minister V Kishore Chandra Deo said, “I have taken up this matter with the prime minister and my party. My ministry has prepared a note and we will write to governors where such violations are taking place.”

He said a beginning will be made in Andhra Pradesh’s Vishakhapatnam district. “We know the exact violations taking place in the district which is near Odisha’s Koraput district, where Naxal activity is at its peak. It is not one violation but violations of the Forest Rights Act and Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act,” he said.

According to the tribal affairs ministry, mining activity has caused large-scale displacement of tribals without adequate rehabilitation steps. As per the specific case of Andhra Pradesh, the state government has given land to Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation for mining.

APMDC has signed memoranda of understanding with companies from west Asia. Under PESA Act, approval of gram sabha is required to divert any land for non-forest purposes. This diversion can take place only for minor minerals. Deo said, “these mining leases are not for minor minerals from any point of view.

The Forest Rights Act says that the forest dwellers have a hereditary right on this land. The government cannot lease it out.”

The Centre, desperate to address the tribal-Naxalism overlap in the red corridor, has decided to ask governors to play a more active role in governance of these areas.

Under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution, Governors are given special powers in Scheduled Areas.

Governors can direct that any particular law passed by legislature or Parliament may not apply to a Scheduled Area for “good governance and peace” in these areas.

[Source – The Economic Times]

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