‘War’ over Bauxite Mining Hots up

21 September 2007

VISAKHAPATNAM: The stage seems to be set for a war of a different kind. NGOs are ready to screen their film against bauxite mining ahead of the government’s plan to ‘sensitise’ tribals through their own movie on how they would have better days once bauxite ore is supplied to big companies.

The Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation and the Industries Department are said to have spent a lot on a film produced with particular focus on how the establishment of an alumina refinery by Nalco in Orissa’s Damonjodi ushered in a new era.

After screening the film before representatives of some NGOs in Hyderabad and seeking their support to propagate the need to allow bauxite mining three months ago, the authorities have gone slow in the backdrop of certain developments like the threat by Maoists to liquidate those championing the cause of Jindal South West Aluminium Limited and Ras Al-Khaimah. However, it is waiting for an opportune time to launch its campaign.

The Jindal as well as RAK, a constituent of the United Arab Emirates, are contemplating setting up their projects near S.Kota and Makavarapalem respectively with an investment of Rs.20,000 crores.

To drum up support, Samata, an NGO and the all-party team formed to fight against acquisition of lands for aluminium projects in Visakhapatnam and Vizianagaram districts, have decided to screen ‘Mahua Memoirs’ at VUDA children’s theatre on September 26.

The documentary by photographer Vinod Raja speaks about how Adivasis have taken up cudgels against mining in Andhra Pradesh , Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand and the price they are paying to stop ‘repressive measures.’

The film shot by Grassroots Media in collaboration with EQUATIONS of Bangalore drives home the point with visuals of tribal youth on their fears over eviction and the life after acquisition of their land.

Mr. Raja says of 230 crore tonnes of bauxite deposits in the country, South Orissa and north Andhra alone account for 70 per cent of ore reserves predominantly in tribal areas.