Environmentalists have criticised the sand mining policy, approved by the state cabinet on Wednesday, saying it is “old wine in a new bottle”.
“If a government office can overrule a gram panchayat, a legally elected body, then we are back to the same old situation,” said Debi Goenka of the Bombay Environment Action Group.
The policy says if a gram panchayat rejects a sand auction, the company can appeal to the sub-divisional officer (SDO), who will take the final decision. According to the existing system, the collector takes the final decision. “The SDO is also a revenue official like a collector and among those who have given permissions to existing sand miners, who have violated all rules. So the policy won’t help,” said Awaaz Foundation’s Sumaira Abdulali, who had moved the high court last year seeking a ban on sand mining.
Activists want the state to clarify how the revenue from the 2 per cent green cess will be used.