Hyderabad, Aug 12 (IANS) Demanding cancellation of the mining lease to a company allegedly owned by a son-in-law of former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, Communist Party of India (CPI) Thursday laid siege to Khammam district.
Police arrested CPI state secretary K. Narayana and other leaders and activists for staging protests on roads in different parts of the district. The road blockades brought vehicular traffic to halt at several places including on the borders with Chhattisgarh and Orissa.
Alleging serious irregularities in the lease to Rakshana Steels Ltd for iron ore mining, CPI demanded that the lease be cancelled.
Opposition parties alleged that late chief minister Rajasekhara Reddy’s son-in-law Anil Kumar owns Rakshana Steels but the latter has denied this.
Narayana, CPI legislator P. Nageswara Rao and other leaders were arrested at Paleru in Khammam district. The main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supported the CPI protest.
Police also arrested CPI workers who staged a protest at the office of Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC).
Last month, the state government had requested the central government to keep in abeyance its earlier notification granting 56,690 hectares of land allotted to the APMDC, that was later handed over to Rakshana Steels Ltd for iron ore mining and setting up of a steel plant.
The central government had reserved 56,690 hectares in Bayyaram, Garla and Nelakondapally mandals of Khammam district for exclusive exploration, covering survey and investigation of mineral-bearing areas in favour of APMDC.
The move to put the lease on hold, taken allegedly at the instance of Congress leadership, was seen as an attempt to checkmate Rajasekhara Reddy’s son Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy for defying the party.
The state government, however, said it was done for proper re-verification of the extent of area as objections were raised about the impact of mining on habitations, railway lines and roads.
Claiming that it was a bigger scam than the one in Karnataka involving Karnataka minister Gali Janardhan Reddy, the TDP and the Left parties are demanding a thorough probe in the matter.
The parties alleged that the lease was given by YSR government a few months before the elections last year.