SC panel recommends Rs 10 lakh per vehicle fine to curb illegal bajri mining in Rajasthan
The central empowered committee (CEC) constituted by the Supreme Court has recommended imposing a fine of Rs 10 lakh per vehicle and Rs 5 lakh per cubic meter of sand seized as penalty against illegal Bajri mining in Rajasthan.
In February, the SC had constituted the committee to look into illegal sand mining in the state and submit a report suggesting measures to deal with it. After visiting relevant places and understanding the details of the illegal trade, the committee recently submitted the report, which comprises 111point recommendations.
The CEC suggests that the ministry of environment and forest issues environment clearance to all the valid LoI (letter of intent) holders recommended by the expert appraisal committee (EAC) in its meeting, held during 2014-2016, without insisting on submission of scientific study report as a precondition for the grant of EC within a period of three months, said a senior official of the mines department.
In absence of replenishment study and environment clearance, the Supreme Court in November 2017 had banned bajri mining and directed the state government to ensure that illegal mining does not take place.
Official data tabled in the Assembly states that between April 1, 2018 and July 31, 2020, a total of 3,076 FIRs and 33,317 complaints have been registered for violations of Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act. Also, in this period, the state government compounded Rs 216.19 crore as fine from the violators.
Other recommendation of the CEC recommends that all the Khatedari leases located within 5 kms from the river bank as well as leases, where violation of the lease conditions including misuse of e-ravannas are detected, are terminated forthwith and the state government shall not issue fresh Khatedari leases except for Palaeo deposits in district of Bikaner without the approval of this court, said a senior official on anonymity.
The state government will constitute an empowered committee headed by the chief secretary to consider and settle claims of excess payments collected from the LoI holders.
The state government is directed to conduct a drone survey in respect of all the remaining Khatedari leases within the next four months to assess the irregularities if any committed by them, he said.
Recently, even chief minister Ashok Gehlot had stated that the issue of illegal bajri mining remained a concern for him.