A landslide that reportedly occurred in the area has exposed the faulty techniques employed in limestone mining in the district's Transgiri area, raising questions over the functioning of the mining department.
According to a source, over 100,000 tonnes of limestone have been deposited in the Mam Chand Goyal mine, one of the quarries, which has proved a windfall for its owner, Sunil Goyal, as the deposits are valued at about `2 crore.
However, the mining department is still in denial mode and has taken no action against the unscientific methods being used to mine limestone.
The question also arises why the monitoring committee overlooked the probability of a landslide during its visit to the area last January.
The panel was set up by the Himachal High Court for keeping tabs on limestone mining once a year.
"If the mining department takes the required steps it stands to earn mining royalties running into lakhs of rupees. The department charges `53 per tonne of limestone as royalty," the source added.
Earlier, a local environmental activist, Kinkri Devi, had filed a PIL in the Himachal High Court against 48 mine owners, accusing them of uncontrolled limestone quarrying. Getting no response, she staged a 19-day hunger strike outside the court in Simla until it agreed to take up the issue. In 1987 the court ordered a stay on limestone mining and also imposed a blanket ban on using explosives in the hills.
Denying unscientific mining techniques were being used, Goyal said: "The rules are being followed strictly and no landslide has ever occurred in our mine. The debris that fell at the site was from the excavation."
On the other hand, mining officer Suresh Bhardwaj said though there were reports of a landslide at the mine, without a detailed investigation it can't be ascertained whether unscientific mining techniques were employed. The owner has been instructed to clear the debris failing which mining activities won't be allowed to resume," he added.