To curb illegal mining, the Himachal Pradesh government is planning to wage an all-out war against the mafias operating in the state.
The state government has convened a high-level meeting summoning police chiefs of all 12 districts and that of Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh area. The meeting is scheduled to be held on Monday.
The government initiative comes in wake of chief minister Virbhadra Singh's candid submission in the assembly that the mining mafia in the state was enjoying political patronage.
Illegal mining was more on the river beds on the interstate borders particularly those along the Punjab border.
Neighbouring Punjab has imposed a ban on lifting sand from river beds, which has increased the demand. “The meet will focus on mulling strategies to check illegal mining in the state. The meet is a follow-up to the chief minister's assurance in the House to check illegal mining,” chief secretary Sudripto Roy told the Hindustan Times.
Besides the district police chiefs, the meeting will be attended by officials of the mining and industry department and the home secretary.
Industry minister Mukesh Agnihotri is also likely to chair the meeting which will largely focus on making strategies and plugging loopholes, from where illegally mined raw materials are smuggled to neighbouring states.
Illegal mining along river beds attained government's focus after a young IAS officer, Yunus, sub-divisional magistrate of Nalagarh, was attacked by illegal miners.
Tractors-trailers laden with sand had tried to run into the official vehicle of Yunus when he was checking illegal mining on August 7.
Yunus had also written to senior police officers, complaining about connivance of some police officials with mining mafias.
The government had come under immense criticism during the monsoon session for its failure to check illegal mining and the chief minister had to assure the House that the menace would be checked at any cost by the government.
After the opposition raised the issue of Yunus's complaint to police high-ups in the House, the government promptly transferred the Nalagarh DSP to the Bhakra Beas Management Board, Talwara. But the very next day the same DSP was transferred to significant border town Parwanoo that shares boundaries with Haryana and Punjab.
Sources said Agnihotri had asked the government to make provision for mining officers for using the blue beacon atop their vehicles. The industries and mining department has apprised the government about the shortage of staff, particularly mining guards.
What does new mining policy say
Brick-kilns will be under ambit of industry department
Ensure scientific mining and ban on mining or auction of mines in border areas of state
Lessee will appoint technical person to ensure scientific mining with experience of 20 years
Breaking of stones/slates in less than 1-hectare will not be treated as mining activity
Muck from the developmental work would be provided to stone crushers to meet their demand
Mining lease mandatory for stone crushers
Mining ban within 200 m upstream and downstream of water supply scheme