Delay in sand mining deals cost govt Rs 263 crProjects hit: Mega infra projects likePatna airport terminal, AIIMS-Digha elevated road suffer delays

Published on Mar 18, 2020 08:15 PM IST
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The inordinate delays in settlement of ghats, procedural wrangle and arbitrary approach of senior officers not only led to serious embarrassment of the government in the court, but also made the mining department incur a loss of Rs 263.28 crore.

The audit report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), which was laid in the state legislature recently, stated that the delayed approval of mining plan and environmental clearance and lackadaisical approach of the district collectors and mining officers in resorting to alternative mechanism for allowing sand mining in 14 districts led to the huge loss of revenue.

“The delay in taking decision to issue work order for sand mining, weak monitoring and supervision by the mines commissioners and the director, mines, led to non-settlement/operation of sand ghats in five of the 14 districts inspected during 2016-18, and subsequently the state suffered a loss of Rs 166.98 crore,” the report notes.

The report points out complicated norms for settlement of ghats for sand mining and arbitrary cancellation of contract without entertaining justification of the settlees (the parties that got the ghats settled for sand mining) also led to the Patna high court’s intervention. The court had set aside the department’s order in favour of the settlees, but the process took about nine months, and thereby the department could not get the royalty in lieu of mining for the intervening period in the districts like Jamui and Lakhisarai.

Blame it to the bureaucratic wrangle, the district authorities settled ghats and issued the work order after almost five months of delay in Chapra, leading to loss of revenue of Rs 99.59 lakh. In Gopalganj and Siwan, the district authorities could not settle the ghats for mining till November 2017 even after the settlees refused to submit the environmental clearance within the stipulated period. In was in 2018 that the ghats in these districts could become operational.

The report further notes that the mining officers refrained from operationalising mining of sands at ghats in Patna, Bhojpur, Rohtas and Vaishali after cancellation of lease and their subsequent restoration after the court’s intervention. The process led to a loss of revenue to the tune of Rs 96.39 crore.

Many mega infra projects, including reconstruction of Patna’s airport terminal, AIIMS-Digha elevated road and Ganga Pathway, suffered deferred deadlines owing to severe scarcity of sand during the year 2016-18 owing to avoidable delays in settlement of ghats for mining.

A senior officer of the airport authority of India at Patna admitted that the new terminal building of the airport suffered delay for about a year due to the scarcity of sand. “The new terminal is now expected to become operational by October 2022, instead of previous deadline of December 2021,” he said.

Another mega project, 11.9-km long AIIMS-Digha elevated corridor, is likely to become ready for traffic by April this year against its initial deadline of August 2018. The short availability of sand also hampered construction of the long-awaited Ganga expressway, which was initially supposed be opened for traffic by December 2019.

Manikant, state president of Credai, the apex body of private real estate developers’ associations, said prolonged scarcity of sand, the basic ingredient for construction, had not only hit major infrastructure and real estate projects, but also rendered a large section of construction workers jobless for months due to suspension of work.


    Subhash Pathak is special correspondent of Hindustan Times with over 15 years of experience in journalism, covering issues related to governance, legislature, police, Maoism, urban and road infrastructure of Bihar and Jharkhand.

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