‘Disastrous’, say green activists as J-K govt gives free pass to stone crushers
- Environmentalist have warned that the decision to allow stone crushers and hot and wet mixing plants to operate without license could have disastrous consequences for Jammu and Kashmir.
The Jammu and Kashmir government's recent decision to do away with licenses to start operation of stone crushers and hot and wet mixing plants has sparked outrage among environmentalist who have warned that the step could have disastrous consequences for the union territory
Last week, the government notified the J&K Stone Crushers/ Hot and Wet Mixing Plants Regulation Rules, 2021 which dispensed with the requirement of a license to start operation of stone crushers/ hot and wet mixing plants in Jammu and Kashmir to promote ‘ease of doing business’ by creating a business-friendly environment.
"The decision will facilitate establishment and functioning of stone crushers, hot and wet mixing plants and boost the supply of raw material required in the construction sector. This will also expedite completion of various mega-projects in Jammu and Kashmir," said the government notification.
Environmentalists have flagged the decision and described it as dangerous for Jammu and Kashmir.
"This will certainly affect the environment. The question is who will determine the site of a crusher plant, where will the materials come from and who will determine its output? The more the crushers the more the chances of pollution increase even if all the requirements are complied with. Besides, there will be more possibilities of illegal mining," said Gowhar Ahmad, an environmentalist.
He said that Kashmir is already facing a dust problem and the crushers will aggravate the problem.
Raja Muzaffar Bhat, an RTI and environment activist said that instead of promoting industrial units with less carbon emissions, the government has given free hand to pollution causing industries. "This will lead to a disaster and also cause pollution and destroy our streams and rivers."
Jalal Jeelani, an environment film maker also said the decision will lead to more pollution. "We have already lost many wetlands, streams and hills due to human interference. This will open more doors for pollution and nobody will be able to stop it."
According to the government notification, the new rules recognize a stone crusher/hot and wet mixing plant as a mineral-based (raw material) processing unit different from those involved in mineral mining activity.
"As such, the applicability of provisions regulating the working of industrial units has been extended to cover these units, thus, doing away with the need of obtaining respective licenses from the Mining Department. However, if a stone crusher/hot and wet mixing plant undertakes mining of minerals as an additional line of activity, it shall then be additionally governed by the rules applicable to mining industrial units," the notification said.
It also said the new rules make it obligatory on the mineral processing units to procure minor minerals from a valid mining concessionaire registered with the Mining Department. The Department has been authorized to inspect such units, ascertain the source of the raw material and undertake seizure of the illegally sourced minerals.
"The decision provides major relief to the entrepreneurs by removing the burden of double registrations wherein the unit holders had to go through the rigorous procedures of registrations and licensing with the Industries and Commerce Department as well as the Mining Department," the notification said.