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Bayyaram mining lease cancelled

Special Correspondent

State's follow-up action only after going through the order: senior official


Union Ministry of Mines conveys its decision to the Department of Mines in a letter

Centre's decision catches the Congress government in State by surprise


HYDERABAD: In a development that caught the Congress government by surprise, the Centre cancelled its earlier approval to the Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC) for exploration of iron ore in Bayyaram and other mandals in Khammam district.

The Union Ministry of Mines conveyed its decision to the Department of Mines in a letter on Wednesday. This effectively puts paid to Corporation's joint venture with M/s Rakshana Steels Ltd. which wanted to set up a steel plant. The Centre had earlier reserved 56,690 hectares of land in favour of APMDC in Bayyaram, Garla and Nelakondapally mandals in Khammam district for exclusive exploration covering survey and investigation of mineral bearing areas.

However, there was a huge political outcry last month when Opposition parties demanded cancellation of the mining lease on the ground that Rakshana Steels was backed by Bro. Anil Kumar, son-in-law of late Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy. However, the management of the company denied the charges. A senior official, when contacted, confirmed that the Ministry of Mines had cancelled the lease. The State government would take follow-up action only after receiving and going through the order issued by the Union Ministry, he said.

Minister for Mines Balineni Srinivas Reddy said the government wanted the mining activity to be kept on hold, but it received a communication from the Centre cancelling the approvals granted. The State government had written to the Centre on July 25 to keep in abeyance its earlier notification granting 56,690 hectares of land allotted to APMDC following complaints by tribal organisations and environmental groups that 30 per cent of the land was covered by habitations and roads and railway lines.

Opposition parties viewed it as a face-saving measure following charges of favouritism, but the government said it wanted the lease to be kept in abeyance to facilitate re-verification of the land. Earlier this month, CPI State secretary K. Narayana led the party leaders and activists and staged protests in Khammam district.

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