To check illegal mining and overcome shortages, the Himachal Pradesh government Tuesday decided to go for open auction of all sand and grit quarries along the riverbed as well as on government and forest lands. The government will initially auction 30 mines in Una district and later in Hamirpur and Kangra districts, an official statement quoted Industries Minister Mukesh Agnihotri as saying.
He said the lease would be valid for 20 years so that the right-holders could derive maximum benefit from the quarries.
The minister said up to three hectares of land available for mining would be reserved for Himachalis. He said this would not only provide them employment but also discourage them from illegal mining.
He said all the old quarries after termination of their lease period would be auctioned again.
Agnihotri said the quarrying would help bring down prices of sand and grit.
Illegal mining is an acute problem in Una, Solan and Sirmaur districts, adjoining Punjab and Haryana, official sources said.