Bihar achieves less than 1/3rd mining rev collection target by Dec
This development came to light during the district-wide review of revenue collection by the mines and geology minister Ramanand Yadav two days ago.
PATNA: Bihar has managed to achieve just one-third of its revenue target of ₹3004 crore for 2022-23 from the mining sector as it could achieved just ₹962 crore till December 2022, said officials aware of the development.
This development came to light during the district-wide review of revenue collection by the mines and geology minister Ramanand Yadav two days ago. Additional chief secretary Harjot Kaur Bamhrah, who is also the managing director of the Bihar state mining corporation Ltd, and other senior officials were also present.
With the revenue collection just one-third of the target so far and most of the districts showing unsatisfactory performance, the minister told the officials to step up efforts and crack down on illegal sand mining, transportation, and storage by the mafia.
“All the officials have to ensure that they meet their targets. Barring a few districts, all districts have performed below par. The e-auction of sand ghats has to be completed in all the districts,” the minister said.
After a three-year break, the Bihar government in September 2022 had initiated the process for regular settlement of ghats (banks) of all rivers for sand mining following the Supreme Court order in a bid to ease the high costs of construction in the state and check illegal mining, which was flagged in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) as well.
Sheikhpura, Madhepura, Supaul, Kishanganj, and Khagaria were the top-performing five districts in revenue collection, while the five worst performing districts were Lakhisarai, Munger, Jehanabad, Gaya, and Rohtas.
However, districts like Patna, Saran, Bhojpur, Aurangabad, Kaimur and Rohtas, which are said to be worst affected by the flourishing racket of illegal sand mining, are nowhere in the list of top revenue-generating districts, though they have been in the news due to frequent raids and clashes for mining, political and official nexus abetting it and removal of top officials for their alleged involvement.
According to a senior department official, the minister has directed that the mineral development officers of the worst performing districts be issued a show cause. “If their performance does not improve, departmental action will be initiated against them,” Yadav said.
Bihar government has been trying to regulate the vexed mining sector since 2016 and in 2017 a new policy was also formed, but things did not improve and illegal mining went on. The official said that sand mining being a high-stake business, the total trade could be in the range of ₹7,000-8,000 crore annually in the naturally endowed Bihar due to construction boom, even though the government gets just a paltry amount through revenue. Sand mining could generate ₹428.06 crore in revenue in the fiscal year 2015-2016 and ₹457.65 crore in 2016-2017.
“We hope revenue generation picks up in the remaining three months, but achieving the target seems unlikely. Bihar is among the top two states as far as availability of sand is concerned, with reserves in 29 of the 38 districts, but it has serious legacy issues due to involvement of mafia with huge clout,” said another officer.
Due to high stakes, there have been frequent gang wars for control over illegal sand mining even during the prohibited monsoon period despite Bihar cabinet’s decision to crackdown on the mafia involved with rampant illegal sand mining by amending the Bihar miners rules, 2019. The amendment, incorporated last year, empowers the authorities to confiscate all vehicles involved with illegal mining and impose hefty fine for their release.
“Sand is an important ingredient for construction and it has no substitute. However, for the common man, construction of house is becoming increasingly difficult due to escalating prices in the last one decade. For ₹1000/100 cubic feet, it is now in the range of ₹8000 to ₹10000. That defies logic. The unusually high cost is what tempts truckers load a little extra,” said a sand trader Jitendra Kumar.