The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy's decision allocating iron ore mines from Bayyaram in Khammam district, which falls in Telangana region for Visakha Steel Plan (VSP) has flared up uproar in political circles.
This has led to flaring up of regional ill-feelings and given a provocative weapon for activists who are demanding separate Telangana state.
The Infrastructure Minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao, who hails from Andhra region added fire to the uproar by reminding Telangana leaders that their region was getting gas and milk from Andhra and Rayalaseema regions. While addressing VSP workers in Visakhapatnam, he asked in a provocative tone "Will you keep quiet if these supplies are stopped”.
The recent government move allotting Bayyaram mines in Khammam district of Telangana to VSP, a public-sector undertaking in Andhra, has evoked strong protest from Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Telangana leaders of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and other opposition parties. TRS and others are also demanding that a steel plant be set up in Khammam or Warangal districts instead of taking away iron ore to VSP.
Addressing the huge gathering at VSP, Srinivasa Rao found fault with the threats by Telangana leaders to stop iron ore supply. "This decision will be 100 percent implemented," he declared. Even Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy made light of the protests in Telangana region against this move by stating that iron ore like other natural resources belong to the nation and it was not proper to create a regional divide over sharing of these resources.
The PCC Chief Botsa Satyanarayana also complicated the issue by stating that an integrated steel plant was not feasible in Bayyaram as the iron ore produced there was of not high quality. Botsa, who is also minister for transport, said both the quality and quantity of the iron ore was not sufficient for a steel plant. He told reporters that VSP proposed to use the same by mixing it with good quality ore it get from other sources.
He even went to the extent of stating that during Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy’s regime, the decision to allocate these mines to Rakshana Steels, allegedly the benami company of Reddy’s son-in-law Anil Kumar, was taken without consulting the cabinet, in which Botsa is also a member. “I was among few ministers who opposed the decision and conveyed the same to the Chief Minister at that time”, he added.
Union Minister of State for Social Justice Balram Naik, who hails from Telangana, expressed the hope that a steel plant would be set up in Bayyaram. He told reporters in New Delhi that he discussed the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
First, controversy was raised during the regime of Dr. Y S Rajasekhara Reddy regarding lease of 56,690 hectares of land in Bayyaram, Garla and Nelakondapally mandals. Like most backward regions in the world, Telangana region is also rich in several mineral resources. One of the several issues providing a fillip to the separate state movement is the indiscriminate plunder of these mineral resources.
Bayyaram Iron Ore is one such valuable resource, which, if utilized correctly, can provide a great boost to the development of future Telangana state. The Telangana movement has successfully thwarted an attempt to plunder the Bayyaram Iron Ore by late YS Rajasekhara Reddy’s family.
Bowing to pressure from several Telangana groups, the Kiran Reddy government in June, 2012 decided to cancel the lease of Bayyaram iron ore mines spread across three mandals in Khammam district. Around 1.4 lakh acres of land was leased to a joint venture of AP Minerals Development Corporation Ltd (APMDCL) and Rakshana Steels for iron ore mining. The TDP had linked Rakshana Steels to Y S Rajasekhra Reddy’s son-in-law Anil Kumar member of the YSR family.