Thursday, June 9, 2011

Revoke Illegal Mining - Press Release

Press Release

 June, 2011


Brief Background:

      Who We Are:
  • We, who are protesting against this destructive mining of our hills, are from theSavara and Jatapu tribes.
  • We are culturally, socially and economically bound to the glorious Kannedhara Hills in the Pulliputti panchayat, Seethampeta mandal, Srikakulam Dist. where no quarrying is allowed.
  • We worship the Kannedhara Konda as our deity and temples dedicated to Lord Anjaneya and local deity Polamma have existed here for centuries .
  • Apart from being rich in various medicinal herbs, Kannedhara is a precious water-source, filling 14 tanks that help raise 2,000 acres of paddy.
What We’re Protesting Against:
  • 1980 acres in the Pulliputti panchayat, Seethampeta Mandal have been surveyed as containing granite worth Rs. 1000 crores.
  • Out of this, 10 hectares worth Rs. 100 crores have been leased to Virgin Rock Pvt. Ltd.
  • This company is owned by Ram Manohar Naidu, son of Roads and Buildings Minister, Dharmana Prasad Rao.
  • The lease was given on the basis of a fraudulent NOC issued by the Revenue Dept., when Dharmana Prasad Rao was the Revenue Minister for the State. This is a brazen case of conflict of interest.
  • Moreover, many tribals had been allocated land in Survey No.289 where mining lease was granted.
Present Situation
Our group of 120 girijans was arrested this morning, while we were on our way to discuss our situation with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister (CM)Kiran Kumar Reddy in Srikakulam.

We had undertaken a 3-day padayatra (protest march on foot) from our villages in the Kannedhara Hills, to protest against the mining lease granted to Ram Manohar Naidu, son of State Revenue Minister Dharmana Prasad Rao.

Finally reaching the city, after covering a gruelling 65 km by foot, we were confronted by new obstacles. First, the police barred our entry into the city, only to let us go after we sat down in the middle of the road and refused to budge. Then, herded by 3 police jeeps and 1 truck full of constables, we were prevented from meeting the minister and made to wait another night.

We were finally given an appointment to meet the CM at 9 am this morning. As we made our way to the RIMS hospital at 8:30 am, where Mr. Reddy was fielding members of the media, the police moved in and arrested our entire group.
We strongly condemn the arbitrary arrests made by the police, especially since it was senior officers who had conveyed the time appointment time in the first place. Why were we prevented from exercising our right to express our grievances non-violently?
We condemn the apathy of the state. When members of a vulnerable community have endured severe hardship, walked for three days across the forest and tar roads in the blazing heat, many of us falling sick along the way, isn't it the responsibility of the state to at least listen us and find out why we've decided to take such a difficult journey?

With no mention of why we were arrested and what we'd done wrong, the only justice that we got to see was in the back of a police truck. We were taken to a facility 40 km from our destination, where we were later released and told to go back to where we came from.

We see this as an affront to democracy and an act of extreme callousness on the part of state officials. We call for a serious enquiry into the its granting of mining leases in Kannedhara hills and a redressal of issues directly affecting us.

We are determined to protest till our Kannedhara konda is saved, and request you to join our fight.

On behalf of Kannedhara Porardha Samiti,

Thotasavara Mukhalingam
Sarpanch, Pulliputti Panchayat
Seethampeta Mandal, Srikakulam
Andhra Pradesh.

Local contact:
Mr. BSanjeeva Rao, President, VELUGU: 9440283837

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