In what is expected to come as relief for the construction industry in the city, sand mining at six small quarries in the state is expected to begin in a few days.
Two important clearances required to begin mining were recently approved by the authorities concerned. While the mining plan of the six sites was approved by the state geologist, a district-level committee headed by the deputy commissioner (DC) also gave its nod to the environment management plan (EMP) of the six sites.
The clearances came a month after the state government had in March passed the Punjab Minor Minerals Rules 2013, which streamlined the process of getting permission to mine in small sites.
"Now, after getting the no-objection certificate from Punjab Pollution Control Board and some operational formalities, mining at these sites will start within a few days," said district mining officer Mahesh Khanna.
Khanna said that the mining plan of 15 other small sites below five hectares had been submitted for approval. "Those, too, in all likelihood will get the approval, making it possible to set up more mining sites in the district."
The district-level committee constituted for approving EMPs is scheduled to meet on Thursday. It is important to mention here that after the state government approved the new rules, hope of opening 34 small sand quarries for mining has brightened. The district-level committee first met for this purpose on April 15.
Under the new rules, earth can be dug up to a depth of three metres in such quarries. The district-level environment management committee will also be constituted to check if mining rules are followed in these sites.
Construction industry in the state had been alleging monopoly in sand trade after the auction of mining sites in the state through an e-auction in January this year. The industry has alleged that despite the opening of 92 acres of a mining site in Parjian Biharipur, high sand prices were affecting the industry. Industry has blamed black marketing of sand reason for this. The opening of smaller mining sites is expected to give some relief to industry.