Mining issue: Centre allows HP to grant environmental clearance
The central government allowing Himachal Pradesh to grant permission for river bed mining up to 25 hectare came as a breather to the state, which saw soaring prices of grit and sand affecting the development works in the wake of the Green Tribunal banning the mining activities.punjab Updated: Dec 27, 2013 19:36 IST
The central government allowing Himachal Pradesh to grant permission for river bed mining up to 25 hectare came as a breather to the state, which saw soaring prices of grit and sand affecting the development works in the wake of the Green Tribunal banning the mining activities.
The new mining policy is likely to be enforced by the state government by Friday.
The Centre's decision has triggered a fresh hopes that the high rates of grit and sand, which has affected common man adversely, especially those living in rural areas, would come down substantially. However, the most affected were people living in Kangra and Solan districts bordering Punjab.
Under the previous notification, it was mandatory to take lease permission from the union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) for mining of areas less than five hectare. The central government's rider resulted in delay in granting environment clearances from the environment ministry.
As a result of which there were only few environmental clearances for mining in the state owing to which the prices of construction materials shot through the roof, giving rise to rampant illegal mining.
Considering the problem vital, industries minister Mukesh Agnihotri pursued the issue with the central government and sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention into the matter.
Giving relief of the state, the MoEF issued a revised notification on December 24, allowing the state to give environment clearances to the mines spread up to 25 hectare of lease area.
“We have received the revised notification on December 25, under which mines having less than 5 hectare of lease area need not to take environment clearance. However, mines having lease area between 5 and 25 hectare will have to seek the environment clearance from the state instead of the Centre,” said Agnihotri.
“The Centre's notification will help checking illegal mining and bring down and stabilise the cost of construction materials in the state,” said Agnihotri, adding chief minister Virbhadra Singh and officials of the state government had pursued the issue with the Centre vigorously.
According to data available with the industry department, as many as 119 units of mining applicants have been waiting for environmental clearance from the Centre. “Now interested parties will just have to fill a form to seek permission from the state government,” he said.
Divulging further details, Agnihotri said the industry department had collected around `84.59 crore as compounding fee.
“In 2012, a total of 5,167 cases of illegal mining were reported in the state, of which in 3,894 cases, compounding of machineries were done with fine around `3.13 crore,” he added.
State geologist Indresh Dhiman said as many as 300 vehicles had been impounded for carrying sand and grit mined illegally.