Tribes of Nalla Mala | People for the Planet
Updated: Sep 28, 2020
Nimala Bayanna, a man in his early 30’s and a member of the Nallamala’s Chenchu tribe wields a bow and arrow, not to hunt for food but to attack treasure hunters or trespassers coming into his home for Uranium. Chenchus are a particularly vulnerable tribal group who live in the Nallamala Forest region spread across 4 to 5 districts in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. If patriotism be defined as love for land, Chenchus can be true patriots in spirit. The Nallamala forest range is known for its rich biodiversity, teeming with flora and fauna, the forest lies just 0.5 km from the catchment area of the Krishna River. Chenchus are a hunting - gathering indigenous community that calls the Nallamala forest range their HOME.
It all started when the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) granted an in principle approval to the Development of Atomic Energy (DAE) to survey and explore Uranium in 83 sq. kms of the Nallamala Forest. This gave birth to the ‘Struggle committee against Uranium Mining’ formed by about 63 organisations. There was also a campaign to stop mining in the Amrabad Tiger reserve - ‘Save Nallamala Forests.’ On a deep note, the impact of Uranium Mining can prove hazardous not just to the Chenchus living there, but to the rare, endangered and unique species of flora and fauna around. Drilling 4000 deep holes will only end up destroying the Amrabad Tiger reserve. This exploration will not only pollute the surface water but will also lead to fragmentation and degradation of the dry forests.
Uranium is used as a fuel for nuclear power reactors for generation of electricity, in the manufacture of radioisotopes for medical applications and in nuclear science research. This triggered a proposal for locating new uranium deposits within our thick and deep forests as we prepare for a jump towards harnessing electricity through this nuclear route. State Municipal Administration and IT Minister, KTR earlier said that it is a two phase process - Exploring and Mining. The exploring phase comes under the purview of Union Government whereas when it comes to mining, it needs State Government approval (permission).
And yet the fact of the matter remains that the places which will be drilled for exploration are very close to the Nallavagu and Dindi tributaries of the Krishna river and will cause a good amount of water, air and land contamination. Also, the disturbance to wildlife and destruction of the pristine forest due to this exploration activity is a huge matter of concern for the people who have been living there peacefully. Which makes me say loud and clear that paving the way for development at the cost of irreversible damage to public health and our natural biodiversity can only lead to further destruction of our planet and nothing less.