The state government is planning to form flying squads to check illegal mining across Maharashtra, minister of state for mines and environment, Sachin Ahir, said on Saturday.
Ahir added that to ensure greater transparency in granting mining leases, the state is considering introducing a bidding and tendering process.
A case of alleged illegal mining came to light last week after the Directorate of Geology and Mines (DGM), Nagpur, submitted a report to the state government on Kalane mines in Dodamarg taluka, Sindhudurg district. The report alleged that the lease holder of the mine – M/s Minerals and Metals Private Limited had been illegally extracting iron ore from a 4.89-hectare area outside the area leased to them. The estimated iron ore reserve in the 4.89-hectare area is 9.34 lakh metric tonnes.
“We are planning to form flying squads to ensure thorough cross-examination of complaints on illegal mining. Mining officers, regional officers of environment department would be a part of the squad,” said Ahir.
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has appointed a three-member committee, headed by additional chief secretary of the revenue department, to look into the allegations of illegal mining at Kalane mines.
According to the March 2011 Bulletin of Mining Leases and Prospecting Licences, a publication of the Indian Bureau of Mines, Maharashtra has 251 active mining leases. The Sindhudurg district, where the Kalane mines are located, has 15 leases covering 613.84 hectares.
Currently, mining leases and prospecting (exploration) licences are granted to private companies on the basis of applications made as per the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960. A prospecting licence is granted to undertake to explore, locate or prove mineral deposits.
“There have been serious issues of environmental degradation around mines. The CM has discussed bringing more transparency in granting of leases, which is why we want to look at bidding and tendering processes as an option,” Ahir added.