The ban on sand mining in non-coastal regulatory zone areas of the coastal districts of Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg has been lifted for the next two years, the ministry of environment and forests announced on Monday.
The order will come as a relief to the builders’ lobby, which had expressed serious concerns over shortage of sand to the state government.
The shortage had affected construction and infrastructure projects in the city.
The ban was lifted on certain conditions such as all environment and forest requirements be complied with and environment mitigation measures taken while carrying out sand mining activity.
The ministry has also asked the state government to set up a state-level monitoring committee, comprising independent local experts, representatives of departments concerned and NGOs, to ensure that the environment requirements are complied with and violations avoided during sand mining activity. The state environment department will soon set up this committee.
Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh had announced that sand mining ban would be lifted in these two districts after his meeting with chief minister Prithviraj Chavan earlier this month.
“There has been a blanket moratorium on consideration of all projects from Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts till June 30, until the report of the western ghat ecology expert panel is submitted. Both the districts fall under the western ghats… The panel has been asked to delineate ecologically-sensitive areas in the western ghats, where development needs to be regulated,” the order states.