Shimla (Vijyender Sharma)
The State Government was committed to check illegal mining in the State and for this it has strengthened legal framework besides inspection/enforcement has been emphasized upon. Stating this, Industries Minister Shri Mukesh Agnihotri said here today that the State Government has amended Mineral Policy in 2013 and it has made incumbent upon the concerned departments to file FIR in case of damage to the properties of PWD, I&PH, Revenue Department etc. He said that Himachal Pradesh River/Stream Bed Mineral Policy Guidelines-2004 has been incorporated in this Policy to make it more realistic and pragmatic.
Industries Minister said that minor mineral sites were being auctioned in a transparent manner to meet out the burgeoning demand of material like sand, stone, bajri etc. He said that this has not only ensured check on illegal mining but also earned revenue to State exchequer. He said that the Government has auctioned 47 numbers of potential mineral bearing sites for a sum of Rs. 35.86 crore on annual bid basis. He said that the auction process for rest of the districts was in pipeline and remaining quarries will be auctioned in near future. This endeavor of the Government would not only fetch handsome revenue to the State exchequer but also curb illegal mining as vulnerable sites would no more remain open/ free hold and susceptible to illegal mining, he added. Agnihotri said that in order to facilitate the applicants for obtaining mineral concession, the State Government has decided to issue Letter of intent, enabling the applicant to obtain pre requisite environmental clearances. He said that usually it has been observed that transportation of illegal mining is carried out at night therefore, the Government has imposed ban on transportation of minerals in border areas from 8 PM to 6 AM. He said that atleast 150 illegal roads have been identified and closed to check illegal mining during this period. Shri Agnihotri said that a new Minor Mineral Rules, 2015 had been notified to streamline the process of exploiting minor minerals apart from providing deterrent penalties of prosecution and fine up-to Rs. 50, 000 for various violations. He said that the State Government has detected 29371 cases of illegal mining during the present tenure of the State Government and imposed fine of Rs 14.56 crore of the violators as compared to only 16376 cases of illegal mining detected and mere Rs 4.94 crore fine imposed during the five years tenure of the previous State Government. He said that in addition, 25 JCBs, 17 trucks and 10 tractors were impounded during this period and heft fines imposed on the owners. Shri Agnihotri said that in order to decentralize the powers under the Mining Acts to take cognizance of illegal mining activities, the Government has delegated powers to 39 numbers of Officers/ Officials of different categories of various departments like Revenue, HPPWD, I & PH, Industries, BDOs, RTOs etc. He said that it was also incumbent upon these departments to lodge FIR against the offenders causing damage to their properties. A Sub Divisional level Flying Squad under the chairmanship of concerned SDM, having DSP and ACF its members has also been constituted to conduct raids against illegal mining, he added.Industries Minister said that to bring accountability and to exercise greater control on illegal mining, the department of Industries has evolved an inspection and reporting system in the hierarchical order, wherein, every Officers/Officials of the department would have to undertake inspections of crusher/leases on mandated frequency and report to his immediate superior about the action taken by him in the field against illegal mining. He said that the role of each and every Officer/Official of the Mining Department has been defined and non-performing of duties would invite disciplinary action against such officials. Further, the role and performance of every Field Officers /Officials would be reviewed at the Directorate level.
He said that all the Deputy Commissioners have also been asked to convene monthly meetings of all the duty holders to review the action taken by them against illegal mining. He said that they have also been asked to constitute the committees of HPPWD, Revenue and Forest Officials, since most of the routes leading to the river beds have been carved out illegally on the Forest land/ Government land and the mineral so extracted is being stacked on the acquired width of the PWD roads. He said that the Deputy Commissioners have also been directed to ask the H.P.S.E.B.L officials to ensure that metering of the crusher units is done at the level of transformers/ sub-stations to eliminate the possibilities of theft of electricity. Deputy Commissioner would also ensure through surprise inspections that no diesel generated sets are used illegally by crusher owners, he added.