Due to the failure of the state mining department to check illegal mining, the Himachal government has suffered revenue losses of over `50 crore in revenues from construction materials for the ongoing Kiratpur-Nerchowk road four-laning project. According to details obtained from the mining department under the Right to Information Act by a resident, Madan Lal, the department did not grant permission for mining activities to the firm executing the project nor did it collect any royalties on this account till date.
The state government was supposed to receive a royalty of Rs 60 per tonne for construction materials (boulders, 'bajri' and sand) as per the government notification under sub rule (2)f of rule 20 of the Himachal Pradesh Minor Minerals (concession) Revised Rules, 1971.
Auhar panchayat head Desh Raj Sharma, an engineer, claimed the illegal excavation of minerals was going on unchecked at more than three dozen places in both private and government land in district. "The company that has been contracted the project has stored over 100,000 metric tonnes of construction materials. Of over 200 heavy duty trucks involved in the mining work dumped over 3,000 metric tonnes of materials every day at the firm's dumping site in Delag. Though this illegal activity has been going on continuously for the past six months no official from the mining department has collected the royalties. This is all going on with the patronage of the leader of a political party," he claimed.
He said despite several complaints about the irregularities filed with the deputy commissioner, the police chief and mining department officials and the pollution control board, nothing had been done.
Meanwhile, the Four Lane Parbhavit & Vishthapit Samiti has demanded revenue officials should demarcate the remaining land belonging to area residents to prevent it from being acquired by the government for various projects. Samiti general secretary Madan Lal Sharma and legal advisor Rajesh Mishra urged Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh to extend assistance to the residents hand, saying: "All of them are Bhakra Dam evacuees and they have again become oustees. We don't have any objection to widening roads or building new ones, but over 70 families have been rendered landless and homeless in the area as revenue authorities have failed to demarcate their remaining land".
Madan Sharma, a retired army soldier, said: "If the issue isn't resolved within a week we'll hold protests in front of the district administration office."