Sand mining for power projects devours rich paddy fields in Himachal

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Short on arable land, much of the prized paddy fields in Himachal laid out by thousands of years of rivers sedimentation are fast being eroded by sand mining to meet construction needs around large hydropower projects.

With the revenue authorities stepping aside about the damage to agricultural lands being done around big construction projects, the mining authorities are in a bind in maintaining a vigil as large scale violations go unchecked.

Putting the ball in court of the mining department, principal secretary revenue Deepak Sanan says, “the revenue department does not regulate land use change and it is the concerned department which needs agriculture land for its usage that applies for the purpose.”

Spelling out the state policy, state geologist Arun Sharma says, “mining for minor minerals such as sand is permitted on un-irrigated, barren or fallow lands but it is not allowed on irrigated lands.”

Sources in the industry department revealed that enforcing the mining laws about extracting stones or sand from river beds or the rich alluvial fields on the banks was a tough task as illegal mining and theft was hard to check.