Uttarakhand aims to recover loss from highway liquor ban through mining | dehradun | Hindustan Times
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Uttarakhand aims to recover loss from highway liquor ban through mining

The Uttarakhand government has set an ambitious target to increase its mining revenue by about 70% in the current financial year to compensate for the loss incurred after highway liquor ban

dehradun Updated: Apr 12, 2017 19:32 IST
Neha Pant
Uttarakhand News
Out of the total 526 liquor shops in state, 402 fall within 500 meters of highways, resulting in excise duty loss of up to 50%.(HT File Photo)

The Uttarakhand government has set an ambitious target to increase its mining revenue by about 70% in the current financial year to compensate for the loss incurred after highway liquor ban.

Out of the total 526 liquor shops in state, 402 fall within 500 meters of highways, resulting in excise duty loss of up to 50%.

Last week, the state government de-notified 64 state highways into district roads, but that, too, could bring relief only to some handful of shops.

The state government, however, got a breather when the Supreme Court stayed a high court ban on mining in the state on April 10. The HC ban had led to a revenue loss of around R 1.5-2 crore every day. Add to that, labourers and transporters lost jobs.

The state issues mining permits for removal of river bed material (RBM) with certain restrictions to curb flooding of rivers during rainy season owing to excessive accumulation of RBM. However, successive governments in the state have failed to prevent illegal mining, whose quantum is allegedly much higher than the revenue generated through legal mining.

Now, the authorities are planning to monitor illegal mining through geographical information system (GIS) mapping and tracking of mining vehicles through geo positioning system (GPS).

While GIS is a satellite-based technology that helps collect and manage accurate data like satellite images and aerial photos, GPS mechanism helps in real-time monitoring of vehicles.

“At present, GIS mapping of all mining sites in the state is being carried out through a government agency. The work should be complete in the next five-six months. Once it is done, we will be able to identify the problem areas where illegal mining is taking place,” mining secretary Shailesh Bagauli told HT on Wednesday.

“Also, we will run GPS tracking system on a pilot basis to see how successful it is. Besides that, we are also planning to raise a dedicated geo-informatics centre for live monitoring all such (mining) activities,” he added.

In the last financial year (2016-17), mining activities had contributed around R 335 crore to the state’s coffers. For the current fiscal (2017-18), the state plans to mop up around R 550 crore from mining.

Underlining how a “policy of zero tolerance” would be followed towards illegal mining, Bagauli said that vehicles, stone crushers, storage points involved in the process will be immediately seized or sealed. “Unlike in the past, we will not follow any compounding policy and FIRs will be lodged immediately against those involved in illegal mining,” he said.