Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh on Tuesday sought relaxation in environmental norms for minor sand mining projects in the state.
Virbhadra Singh met union minister of state for environment and forests Prakash Javadekar in New Delhi on tuesday and raised the issue of pending environment clearances. He apprised the union minister that due to various constraints and strict instructions of the ministry of environment and forests, the people of Himachal Pradesh were facing problems regarding shortage of construction material.
Underlining the need to relax norms for granting permission for extraction of minor sand mining projects, he said that permission should be given for extraction from any riverbed and water body up to the area of 5 hectare.
He also pointed out that the ministry had stated before the National Green Tribunal that no environmental clearance would be granted for extraction of even minor minerals (sand mining) from any riverbed where the area was less than 5 hectares. “It will have the adverse repercussions on the development activities in the state,” he said.
Expressing concern over environmental change and the commitment of people of the state in maintaining the balance in development and environment, he said the state had become a symbol of harmony of nature and development and also a role model of development for all the hill states of the dountry.
He also called for immediate formation of the environment and assessment committee, which has lapsed in March, 2014.
The chief minister also raised the issue of delegation of powers to the state government for diversion of forest land up to 5 ha instead of 1 ha for non-forestry purposes for certain specific activities. “It is very important to grant such permission with a view to intensify the pace of development and also requested that roads and all educational institutions should also be included in the ambit of such approval,” he added.
Virbhadra Singh was accompanied by industry minister Mukesh Agnihotri. Agnihotri said that due to tough topographical conditions and small land holdings in the state, people were facing challenges to fulfil their developmental needs. He told the minister that about 150 cases of crushers and other mining operations were pending with the union government.
Javadekar on his part assured the chief minister that interests of the state would be taken care of keeping in view the developmental needs of people of the hill state and also said that possibility of waiving of environmental clearance for projects up to 5 ha on the lines of Uttrakhand would be explored.