First day of monsoon session of the Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha was disrupted because of opposition’s walkout, demanding Chief Minister’s resignation over the ruling party debacle in the state in the latest Lok Sabha elections.
However, there were many issues which were in the benefits of the state. One of such issue was illegal mining, on which former Cabinet Minister and Congress Dalhousie legislature Asha Kumari and sought details of policy and steps taken by the state government to stop it.
In a written reply, Industry Department had informed the house that the mining activities in the State are regulated under the provisions of Mines & Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act, 1957, Mineral Concession Rules, 1960, Mineral Conservation and Development Rules, 1988 and H.P.
Minor Minerals (Concession) Revised Rules, 1971. Apart from this, the State Govt. has also formulated the Himachal Pradesh Mineral Policy-2013, which has been notified vide Notification No. Ind-II(F)6-18/2013, dated 24.8.2013, Minister further infirmed.
Industry Minister Mukesh Agnihotri said that the State Government has started numbers of initiative to control illegal mining in the State. Here are extract from the information laid on the table of
1) The Government has made penalty provisions more stringent and compounding rates of illegal mining/ transportation of mineral has been enhanced. Earlier, there was a provision of imprisonment of one year and fine of Rs. 5000/- in case of illegal mining which has now been enhanced with two years imprisonment and fine upto Rs.
25000/- and minimum compounding fee of offence will not be less than Rs. 10,000/-.
Similarly, the penalty provision for illegal transportation of mineral has also been enhanced. Earlier, there was a provision of imprisonment of one year and fine of Rs. 1000/- which has now been enhanced with imprisonment of two years and fine upto Rs.
25000/- and minimum compounding fee of offence is as under as per the type of vehicle.
Tractor – Rs. 4,500/-
Light Motor Vehicle – Rs. 7,000/-
Truck – Rs. 10,000/-
2) At Sub-Divisional Level, a flying squad under the Chairmanship of concerned Sub-Divisional Officers (C) has been constituted for conducting surprise raids in the areas vulnerable to illegal mining.
3) Powers under Section 22 of Mines & Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act, 1957 has been delegated to the officers/ officials of various departments like Police, Forest, H.P.PWD, I &PH, Revenue & Mining to lodge complaint in the competent Court of Law against the offenders.
4) Powers have been delegated to officers/officials of various Departments like Police, Forest, H.P.PWD, I &PH, Mining to seize any mineral raised or transported or caused to be raised or transported.
5) Powers have been delegated to all Regional Transport Officers in their respective jurisdiction to check illegal mining.
6) In border areas of the State, transportation of raw material has been prohibited between 8-00 P.M. to 6-00 A.M.
7) To check misuse of M-Form for transportation of mineral, the Govt. has started printing of M-Forms, which are being supplied to the leaseholders by the Department through concerned Mining Officer.
8) The State Government has taken up the matter with the Hon’ble National Green Tribunal for vacation of stay granted on 5.8.2013 through Additional Advocate General at New Delhi.
9) The Government is making efforts to fill up the vacant posts of various categories in the Geological Wing of Industries Department.
10) The State Government has taken up the matter with the Hon’ble Prime Minister and Minister of Environment & Forests, Govt. of India requesting to relax the condition of applicability of EIA clearance for two years or till the same is issued by the competent authority whichever is earlier to meet out the demand of mineral through legal source.
Responding on the detail of directives from Supreme Court and Green Tribunal, Dept clarified that the Supreme Court of India in Feb. 2012 has made environment clearance from Ministry of Environment & Forests, Govt. of India mandatory before leasing of minor minerals including their renewals for the area less than five hectares. Subsequently, the National Green Tribunal on 5th of August 2013 has restrained mining activities over riverbeds throughout the Country without environmental clearance, due to which the State Govt. had to suspend the mining leases sanctioned on river beds.