Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday met union environment minister Prakash Javadekar, following which the latter announced to give clearance to the 39A category (minor minerals) mines.
The move is seen to ease out the supply of sand and gravel in the state.
Javadekar told Badal that with respect to 26 minor mineral projects that had been recommended by the expert appraisal committee of the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), consent for environment clearances would be given to the state government and in 13 other cases pending with the MoEF an early meeting of the appraisal committee would be convened to clear these projects.
Badal for simplification of water cess
The chief minister urged the union minister that the state boards might be allowed to retain 80% of the water cess share and the remaining 20% should be sent to the MoEF. Badal also demanded revision of water cess that had not been done since May 2003. The move, according to Badal, would lead to strengthening the financial position of the state boards.
The chief minister apprised Javadekar that as per Section 8 of the Water Cess Act, the taxes levied under Section 3 of the Act were to be first credited to the Consolidated Fund of India, of which 80% was reimbursed to the respective state boards for their utilisation in various activities, but the reimbursement took a long time, thereby hampering the functioning of the state boards.
Javadekar agreed for amendments in the Act.
For release of Rs. 19.9 crore to Punjab Pollution Control Board, which constituted 80% of the water cess for the period January 2013 to March 2014, the union minister assured Badal that the said amount would be released immediately after the receipt of utilisation certificates. Javadekar also gave the nod to enhancing the rate of water cess after seeking comments from all state boards.
Green bridges over Budha nullah
Badal also asked Javadekar for an early construction of two pending green bridges, out of five, over Budha Nullah in Ludhiana as part of the Sutlej rejuvenation plan. The union environment minister ordered the release of Rs. 4.65 crore for completion of the two bridges.
Subsidy on green fuel
Badal also demanded 25% subsidy on green fuel to be used in rolling mills of Mandi Gobindgarh and Khanna towns, which have been declared critically polluted due to excessive use of coal.
While raising the issue of reducing the radius of the eco-sensitive zone limit of 10-km radius to 100 metres with respect to 13 wildlife sanctuaries in the state, the chief minister asked Javadekar to sympathetically consider the genuine problem in view of heavy population and limited area in state for development.