Facing flak over illegal mining and attacks by the mafia, the mineral resources department plans to rope in retired army personnel and the state industrial security force (SISF) for deploying them in sensitive mining areas of Madhya Pradesh.
“We are holding talks with ex-armymen and the state industrial security force (SISF) for hiring their services. Financial details are being worked out. We are seeking rates from them and based on that, negotiations will be held,” VK Austin, director of the department, told HT on Sunday.
Senior officials of the department are discussing the impact of mining on rivers, especially the Narmada, and the steps to be taken to check digging and lifting of sand from riverbeds, Austin said.
The 144-day-long ongoing Narmada Sewa Yatra spotlighted mining on the riverbed. Environmentalists, Congress leaders and some BJP leaders such as Uma Bharti have told the government to stop mining on the Narmada bed if it is serious about protecting the river.
The department has also decided to issue web-based electronic transit pass (ETP) to the mines, in place of paper-based ones, to ensure transparency and keep a tab on the quantum of the minerals mined.
Officials said entries of all mines are being fed into in the ETP software, and user ID and password will be given to contractors on depositing a fixed amount. “This will facilitate leaseholders to deposit royalty and taxes. And through this centralised software, the department will know how much mineral is obtained from excavation and how much is sold,” said an official.
This year, MP recorded 7,097 cases of illegal transportation of minerals with over 600 in the Chambal region, 407 cases of illegal mining and 392 cases of illgal storage.
Illegal sand mining remains rampant in most rivers of the state. Attacks by mining mafia on officials are regularly reported in the state. Mafia violence hit national headlines when the driver of a tractor-trolley carrying illegally mined stones crushed IPS officer Narendra Kumar to death in 2012 in Morena district.
Legislators from both the Congress and the BJP raised concern over illegal mining in the state assembly in March this year, and the main opposition party walked out over what it called the government’s failure to check violence by mining mafia.
Mafia tries to set 5 labourers afire over mining on Son riverbed
Unidentified people related to sand mining mafia allegedly tried to burn alive at least five labourers engaged in transportation of sand from Son river for the under-construction government medical college in Shahdol district.
The incident occurred on Friday-Saturday night when five labourers were sleeping in their huts near the Son river, Sohagpur police station assistant sub-inspector Arvind Dubey said on Sunday.
The private construction firm engaged in building the government medical college has been issued licence to mine sand from Son river, which has affected the business interests of illegal miners. The private contractor, Manish Patel, and labourers lodged a case under Section 435 of Indian Penal Code against unidentified accused on Saturday.
“Investigations revealed the possibility of three men working for some people engaged in illegal mining in the area some days ago being involved in the matter,” said Dubey.
The ASI said the illegal sand mining activity near Son river had suffered a rude jolt five days ago when a department team dug trenches in the area where the illegal mining was being reported. A few days back, three men associated illegal miners had threatened those engaged in mining and transporting sand for the under construction medical college to share the mined sand with them, the ASI said.