Former Energy Secretary EAS Sarma has urged the Andhra Pradesh government to ensure no illegality was committed in the wake of the government's decision to e-auction leases for minor minerals in the state.
In a letter to Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy on Thursday, he sought the matter to be looked into urgently by the State Legislative Department, in consultation with the State Tribal Welfare Department, so as not to commit any illegality since it was found that the concerned authorities, whether in the matter of granting mining leases, or in the matter of setting up tourism projects etc., had been blatantly violating both PESA and FRA by which such projects would be deemed to be prima facie illegal.
"I wish to bring to your attention that, insofar as mining leases in the Scheduled Areas of the State are concerned, any such auction in violation of the provisions the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) and the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act (FRA) would not be permissible.
Under both these laws, the local adivasi Gram Sabhas have a pivotal role to play in taking decisions on (i) whether mining should be undertaken at all, in the first instance and (ii) if so, whether a local tribal cooperative society should be given an opportunity to undertake such mining," he pointed out.
Also, any policy on mining in the Scheduled Areas should first be placed for consideration before the Tribes Advisory Council (TAC) set up under Clause 4 of the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution which was a mandatory provision that could not be ignored, he stated.